A Travellerspoint blog

Markets, Mamu and home

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We decided to check out the Yungaburra markets which are reputably some of the best in the region. It was quite a big market with an extensive fruit & veg section, plus plant sales (spew I can’t buy any!). There were also lots of cool things to buy and we had quite an enjoyable morning.

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As we were driving out I saw 2 people standing looking over the bridge into the river. It was supposed to be a hot spot for platypus so we decided to stop and see if that’s what they were looking at. Sure enough, it was!! There was even a special viewing platform on the side of the river, so you could look through without disturbing them.

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Back on the highway, we headed towards Malanda, stopped at the Malanda Falls to see the national park. Sadly, their tourist centre has recently burnt down and they are operating out of a donga. We decided to go for a walk and try and spot a Lumholtz tree kangaroo as apparently they are quite common in the area. At the end of the track another group had spotted one. It was up very high in the trees and even with the zoom lens it was hard to get a decent shot, but at least we managed to see one in the wild.

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We started the long drive towards Innisfail, as we were going to visit the Mamu rainforest canopy walkway before returning to Cairns. The Mamu walkway has only been open since 2008 and was completed at a cost of $10 million and took 16 months to build. The walkway includes a 1km forest walk at ground level leading to the elevated walkway, a 324m elevated walkway, a 40m-long cantilever and a 37m-high observation tower with two viewing decks. The devastation caused by Cyclone Larry meant that the elevated walkways and the cantilever were able to be built where trees had been felled by the cyclone so that no additional clearing was needed. Plastic decking made of more than 900,000 recycled milk bottles has been used for some of the walkways.

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Unfortunately, we were halfway down the 2.5km return walkway when it started to rain. It was too far to go back to the car and retrieve our umbrellas, so I had to try and shield the camera with my short sleeved shirt, not very easy!! The observation tower provides views over North Johnstone River gorge and surrounding rainforest-clad peaks of the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area. The rain and clouds obscured most of the view from the observation tower, but we could still enjoy the walk itself – after all, we were in a ‘rain’ forest! It wasn’t surprising that it was raining as this area receives up to 4m rain annually!

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Back on the road we headed towards Cairns, via fields of sugar cane and bananas. We were going to stop by and see the Babinda boulders but we never saw a sign for them, so that will have to wait til next time we visit. Back at East Coast rentals, we dropped off the car, emptied out all our goodies, then took the shuttle back to the airport. We had a short stop-over in Brisbane, just enough time to find the Krispy Kreme stand and take our fat-filled dozen taste explosions home. After a fairly uneventful flight home, we arrived back in Perth around 10pm. Mum and Dad had come to pick us up, so a short drive, then home for some zzzzzzzzzzz!

Posted by Nezabella 01:06 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Eagle Encounter

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Today we headed to Herberton Cemetery to find the grave of Rev Arthur Ernest White. Rev White was the instigator of the first Anzac dawn service which was held in 1923 at Albany, the last land the soldiers saw as they sailed away to war. Since that year, the commemorative service has been held to remember those who were maimed or lost their lives protecting our freedom. Rev White was a humble man and his simple un-named grave is a testimony to this. I wasn’t sure what religion he was and it took us ages to find his grave as the cemetery is divided into religious sections. It turned out he was right up the back of the cemetery.

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There were lots of unmarked graves which was a little surprising to see. Perhaps their families weren’t able to afford even a plain marker.

We headed back towards Atherton and had time to visit the tourist bureau and a local second-hand store before it was time for our Eagle encounter. We drove down to Chinatown, which is where the birds of prey company is based. Atherton Birds of Prey operates from the back garden of Chinatown, a nice open venue where the birds are able to fly freely. When we walked down the back there was only one other couple there, an older couple who maintained they were recycled teenagers! It was really nice that there was only the four of us because it meant we had a much more personalised show. Mark did a fantastic job, introducing lots of different birds of prey including a magpie which has been easily trained and was able to pick up bits of newspaper and pop them into a rubbish bin. It was done so quickly I couldn’t even capture it on camera! Very entertaining.

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Mark is definitely a showman but with so much enthusiasm and love for his birds. The next star to join us was a beautiful snowy white barn owl.

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Mark then bought out a lesser sooty owl. They have the most striking heart shaped face made of creamy coloured feathers surrounded by a darker ring and then dark mottled body feathers.

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We were also joined by a barking owl and a peregrine falcon.

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The final bird in the show was a wedge-tailed eagle. He is blind in one eye and can be a little temperamental but was on his best behaviour today. To show us how the eagle works out in the wild, Mark had made a polystyrene “egg” in which he’d hidden some meat. The eagle made quick work of demolishing the egg, using a rock to break it open and get to the treat inside.

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When the public show ended, our private session began! Mark brought out his other eagle, a wedge-tailed female. The two of us had heaps of opportunity to fly the bird and get some great photos. The power of the bird landing on your glove is quite amazing.

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After the show ended we headed to the Beck War Museum which was on the way to Mareeba. This war museum is a private collection put together by Sid Beck.

The public viewing area consists of a large display room full of militaria, smaller items and scale models, and a large WWII timber-framed hangar (an exhibit in itself!) which houses most of the full-size items. The aircraft on display include Ikara missile, SP-2H Neptune A89-277, DH-82 Tiger Moth VH-BXF, CAC Wackett, GAF Canberra A84-210, V-1 flying bomb replica, Bristol Sycamore XN450, Sea Venoms, Bell Airocobra “Erminie”, C-47 A65-73, DH Vampire, a Wildcat replica from a movie and Beech 23 Sundowner. There are quite a few vehicles on display as well, including an operating Vietnam-Veteran Centurion MBT. Other vehicles include various soft-skinned trucks, an Alvis Saracen, various pieces of artillery and also several aero engines. There is also a Matilda tank guarding the gate. We were able to have a really good look around before it was closing time.

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Posted by Nezabella 00:52 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Rafting the Tully River

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Today we were booked in for white water rafting on the Tully River. Tully River has some of the best rapids (up to Grade 4) in Australia, fuelled by the hydro power station at the top of the river. We were booked into the most challenging trip available, xtreme tully with Raging Thunder, for 5hours of fun! This meant we had a smaller group with a senior guide in each boat and got to do some cool extra stuff not available on the standard rafting tours.

We had to get up quite early to get to the meeting spot at 8am. Although Tully River isn’t actually that far away from our accommodation, the roads to get there are! We had to travel all the way around the national park which made for a 2hr trip just to get there. We were up around 5am and left before it was light. For the first time we experienced FNQ highland fog and suddenly understood why all the warning signs were so big near corners (in full visibility it does seem to be overkill). It was quite eerie to drive through but at the same time beautiful, especially when it cleared a bit and the sunrise was shining through it.

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We made good time and got to the meeting point a bit early. The café was full of people waiting to go on the various rafting adventures to be held that day. We piled into the bus and headed off. There were 3 xtreme rafts going out for the day and we jumped in araft with 4 other people – a French couple and 2 American students. Our guide was Vince and he was fantastic – very funny! Vince explained that we had good rapids that day because all 4 turbines were running at the hydro station. He showed up all the different stances we needed to learn and how to hold on without falling off which involved wedging your foot between the wall and floor of the raft and leaning into the centre. He also explained how to hold our paddles safely and then we were off. The journey downriver was seriously exhilarating. Churning water, bubbles and fast-paced manoeuvring through gaps only just big enough for the boat and plunging down to the next level all made for an exciting adventure. Our team worked really well together in following Vince’s instructions, paddle back, get down, paddle forward, lean left, lean right as quickly as possible to ensure we didn’t end up on a rock! The only challenge I wasn’t interested in was the “washing machine” rapid as I had no desire to experience simulated drowning!

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We stopped for lunch by the side of the river then back on the river we made our way to the end. We had to be careful not to fall out in the last section as crocodiles have definitely been spotted there!

It really was a great day, very enjoyable. Back at the café we got back in our car and checked out the tourist centre just down the road and then decided to find the Golden Gumboot, which wasn’t far away. It was a bit rainy but we were able to get a couple of shots. Tully is one of the wettest places in Queensland and has recorded flood waters of 7.9m back in 1950 – the height of the gumboot!

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On the long drive back to Herberton we managed to catch up with an elusive cane train. We'd seen heaps of signs through FNQ but not really any trains so what joy when we stumbled upon this one so late in the trip! Guess who had to get out and run to try and catch the train... rather silly when it's raining...

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We were also lucky enough to see the remnants of a cane field burning, though not the large fields of fire I had been hoping for. Nowadays the cane is harvested green so the spectacle is not often seen.

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As it got dark the fog came rolling back in again.

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Posted by Nezabella 23:52 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Herberton Historic Village and more

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We made a fairly early start today as there was lots on our list to see. First stop was the spy and camera museum. It’s quite a small place, but contains a huge display of rare and amazing cameras. We enjoyed a guided tour which was very hands on, quite unlike any other tour of a museum I’ve been on. Instead of the cameras staying behind glass cabinets and never being touched, our host Mark got most of them out and showed us how they worked. It was a real pleasure to see them still being used instead of languishing in a normal museum. He also does photography work for the town and has a studio out the back which we tried out.

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Next stop was the Herberton Historic Village. One of our B&B hosts, David Sims, is one of the senior research advisors for the village. It’s a beautifully recreated town made entirely of reclaimed local houses. Think Sovereign Hill, Ballarat, without the actors. Each house is set up as something different, from the printer to the local sewing shop, school, blacksmith, radio store, bootmaker, camera store, an original miners hut built on that very land, a prison, emporium, butcher and a local pub to name a few. The only building that is new is the pub. Each has been beautifully set out with mementos of days gone by.

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We decided to leave the village, grab some lunch in town and then return. We ended up at a café near our B&B where they serve really nice burgers, so we munched on those while shooing pesky flies. Back at the historic village we continued our tour until mid afternoon but still hadn’t finished looking at the whole place.

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We also wanted to visit the Mining Museum which was only open til 4pm so we decided to go and look at that and return to the village afterwards. The mining museum was very interesting and had some great displays on local mining history in the area, a gemstone and rock display and even had a hands-on area where one could use a chisel and hammer and see how difficult it was to break through the rocks by hand. Out the front they had a monument to the many men who had lost their lives in mining accidents, some quite gruesome!

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At one time, Herberton was the most important town on the tablelands. The discovery of tin at Herberton was largely responsible for the development of the other towns on the Atherton Tablelands. The Great Northern Mine, operational from 1880 to 1956, was responsible for producing 5000 tonnes of ore, which in today’s money would be worth $100,000,000.

Back at the village we spent lots of time in the school room. They had lots of sample tests in English and Maths, some of the primary aged questions were pretty hard! Can’t believe we’ve been back here 3 times today. The Historic Village certainly requires a whole day to appreciate all the different displays on offer.

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Next stop was the Mt Hypipamee National Park to see the Hypipamee crater, also known as a volcanic pipe. From the lookout, there is a fall of 58m before hitting the water’s surface. The pipe was opened upward through surface rocks by gas produced from molten rock below and as a result of tremendous pressure, the vent exploded. It has a diameter of 61 metres at the water level which is covered with a lovely layer of green water plants!

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Posted by Nezabella 23:19 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Waterfalls and Paronella Park

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Today dawned lovely and sunny – almost perpetual here in Herberton! Today we were going to visit the town of Ravenshoe, the highest town in Queensland – 920m above sea level.

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Along the way, we drove along the highest road in Queensland leading to the highest town. It’s a reasonably sized country town with the characteristic centre (of the road) parking that is so common here in Queensland. We saw a sign for an arts and crafts cafe, so parked and went to check it out. Jeff amused himself outside with the local dog who had a ball and was begging for a throwing partner.

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We followed the signs towards Millstream Falls. They are the widest single drop falls in Australia, although at this time of the year they are not flowing as heavily as they can do. This is the driest time of the year in this area, just before the rainy season. Even though it is not the rainy season, the falls were still flowing quite spectacularly. By the time we got back up to the car we definitely needed a drink of water.

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Around midday we headed out to explore the Millaa Millaa falls circuit. On the 15km circuit there are lots of waterfalls, but we were visiting just the 3 best ones. The first, Millaa Millaa is the most visited and photographed waterfall in Australia. It’s extremely scenic and a great spot for a swim. Some UK tourists were making the most of the warm weather and swam over to sit under the falls.

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The second waterfall was Zillee. We noticed what looked like a path to the bottom of the waterfall, albeit not the best one. It looked like there had been somewhat of a small landslide and the path was pretty much non-existent. I was paranoid about touching stinging trees and at this stage we had no idea what they looked like! It took us quite a while to get to the bottom and of course I was wearing inappropriate footwear.

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The last waterfall we visited was Ellinjaa. A sloped path led to the bottom where a cool waterfall awaited. It was a nice finish to the waterfall circuit. One thing you notice about Cairns is that there are no ravens rummaging through rubbish in picnic areas etc, instead there are brush-turkeys. These comical-looking birds have black feathers and a bright red head with a yellow band around its neck. Quite jaunty!

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Back on the main highway we headed towards Mena Creek to visit Paronella Park. What an absolutely amazing place, a testimony to the vision of one man. In 1913, Jose Paronella came to Australia from Spain and became a sugar cane cutter. Returning to Spain he married Margarita and they immigrated to Australia. When he saw this 13 acres of land he fell in love, purchased it for 120 pounds in 1929 and made plans to build pleasure gardens and a reception centre open to the public. Jose planted over 7000 trees, including the magnificent Kauris lining the avenue. The first structure to be built was the Grand Staircase, via which he carried river sand to make concrete. Jose was a master recycler and was very good at getting materials for nothing. After building a house, they started on the castle. Everything was built by hand, many structures made from concrete reinforced with railway tracks. In 1935 the Park was officially opened to the public. A theatre showed movies every Saturday night and the Hall was a favourite venue for parties.

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The park includes a lovely small waterfall named Teresa Falls for Jose’s daughter.

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Some sections of the creek have had rock cascades built so you can always hear the sound of water. Jose was ahead of his time and built the first hydro-electric generating plant in 1933, the earliest in North Queensland which supplied power to the entire Park.

In 1946 disaster struck and a flood left extensive damage in its wake. The resilient family began rebuilding but some sections were never restored to their former glory. However the park was re-opened to the public. Only 2 years later Jose died of cancer, leaving his family to carry on his work. The park was sold out of the family in 1977 and after a fire in 1979 was closed to the public. A cyclone in 1986 and another flood in 1994 were reminders of nature’s fury. The current owners purchased the park in 1993 and are doing amazing work on maintaining and preserving the park.

Exploring the park you feel as though you’ve stepped back to another era, Stonework balconies and bridges are everywhere, softened by age, moss and ferns. It is a truly lovely and peaceful place to visit.

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There was a short break between the day and night tours, so we grabbed a pie and drink from the café and had a quick dinner before joining the rest of the group. We came prepared with the tripod as we knew that some parts of the park would be beautifully lit up. The night tour was great and had a different feel to the day tour. It would be really nice to come back in a few years time and see what further improvements have been made.

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Posted by Nezabella 23:15 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

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