Saturday, June 27, 2009

Natural wonders of this wonderful land of OZ

A photo of the Innot hot springs au naturel.

A photo of the more formal hot pools at the wonderful Innot Hot Springs Leisure and Health (Caravan) Park. There are 6 pools of varying degrees of heat. The caravan park is very reasonably priced with friendly welcoming owners and great atmosphere. Entry includes being able to spend as much time in the pools as one desires. A great way of unwinding after viewing the many waterfalls of the equally wonderful Atherton Table lands. The caravan park is located next to the creek in the first photo.

This photo shows one of the lava tubes at the Undara Lava Tubes. Undara means a long way in Aboriginal language. Until a few months ago, when another long lava tube was discovered in Korea, Australia had the distinction of having the longest lava flow from a single colcanic crater. One of the lava flwos under Undara extends more than 160kms.

One has to be part of a tour group to view the lava tubes but one can walk around the crater of Kalkani by oneself.

A videw of a section of the wall. The colours are caused by calcium deposits plus the effct of some ores possible megnesium sulphate (?).
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Other attractions at the Atherton Tablelands apart from waterfalls

This is a photo of the crater walls and the deep small lake at the bottom covered in duckweed at the Mt Hypipamee National Park. It is impossible to take a photo justifying this natural wonder. It is a very tall crater like structure and the pool below which does not look as if it has any water only grass, until you drop a pebble. As the pebble hots the green there is a tiny opening and then the duckweed closes up again.

This photo is taken of a rope course at the Munalli Youth Village at the Munalli Falls. It is a privately owned facility that gets rented out by school groups. The above photo shows a group from Arkansas, USA and they were doing team building at the rope course. Another group was from Townsville. It looked like a wonderful facilty with an obstacle course also.

The Munalli Creek Dairy Factory and tea rooms where I was able to buy some quark. This is a very low fat cream cheese originating in Germany and called turo in Hungarian. Very diffciult to obtain in OZ.

Doesn't this photo look like part of an enchanted forest? A little bit of rainforest leading to, I think, the Pepina Waterfall. I could not resist including it in the blog.
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Waterfall circuit - Atherton Tablelands

As waterfall lovers, the plethora of falls and crater lakes at the Atherton Tablelands floored us. Apart from the waterfalls too, the Tableland is a very pretty part of Australia. It is full of rolling hills and rich dairy cattle country with clusters of rainforest here and there.

But the waterfalls are stunning. The Cairns Highlands/Atherton Tablelands tourism brochure includes the Barron Falls and the Josephine Falls but these we have already seen and have written about in this blog earlier.

Yesterday and today we visited the Malanda, Dinner, Little Millstream and Big Millstream, Pepina, Millaa Millaa, Zillie, Elinja and Mungalli Falls. We found the Millaa Millaa Falls the prettiest. The aboe photo shows the Millaaa Millaa Falls.

The Little Millstream Falls we found to be the second in beauty. The pool below the falls is large and green. I am afraid the photo does not dfo it full justice. We found it was of surprising natural beauty, much much more attractive then its bigger sister and we thought it suffered from neglect, as people visited the big one thinking the little sister did not deserve the same attention. They are so wrong.
The photo of the big sister. Mind you, the bigger Millstream Falls are the widest single drop waterfalls in Australia so I guess that merits more visits.

The old Palmerston Highway linking Millaa Millaa to Ravenshoe is a very attractive and winding road – a very worthwhile drive.

This is a photo of the Malanda Falls which are in the town itself, you can just stop by the roadside, there is no walk to it, it is very accessible. They have made it into a sort of swimming pool area but done well and tastefully.
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Monday, June 22, 2009

A collection of images with no particular theme

This was a road sign that amused us. It was along a road that was unfenced and the sign was warning about cattle straying on to the road - plenty. Note the hats and shoes on the cows.

This is the old hospital at Cooktown that was bought by the Jehovas' Witnesses and used as their hall. They actually moved the building from its original site. But it is beautifully preserved and cared for so it is in good hands.

This is the view from our last free camp site along the Mitchell River. Very little known apart from locals. The information was given to us by a local and we trusted it and followed the road 10 kms from the main highway. It is freshwater and inland so far and along a causeway and from the sea that it was safe to swim in. There may be freshwater crocs but no salties. Not that we saw either species but saltwater crocs are harmless and shy. Mind you, I did not venture too far in but at least it was possible to enter the water. Good for fishing too but without Pete and Toni, wasted on us.

I have to also confess to completing my "real camping" experience here. Lack of toilets means you dig a hole into which you defecate and burn the toilet paper used and then re inter it all. I successfully passed Camping 2 on the syllabus!

Another of the rock arts paintings from the Guurrbi Tour.
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Coffee growing in Australia

We are currently visiting the Coffee Works at Mareeba, Qld. While I am writing this Andrew is finishing off the fascinating self-tour of this interesting and informative spot. For $19 (seniors discount $17) one can sample approx 21 different coffees, 12 chocolates and 3 liqueurs. Andrew was in seventh heaven eating all the chocolate. There is a display of all sorts of coffee makers and memorabilia all collected by one man with a free audio explanation of many marked machines. One can stay as long as one wants and eat and drink to one's heart's content AND can come back the next day.

This is a coffee plant. They can grow to 30 feet but are kept 12 feet by growers for mechanical harvesting which is much more economical than hand harvesting. It takes a coffe plant 5 years to bear its first crop and from one mature plant the yield is 1-2 kgs roasted coffee. It is an annual crop.

200 tonnes of coffee are grown in OZ per annum and 90% in the Mareeba area. NWS has 10 tonnes of annual crop and they hand harvest it all.
The coffee bean. Looks like a small cherry and it has two beans each cherry.

Coffee was first grown in North Qld 1880. The industry 1880-1926 grew 500 tone per annum. the industry declined for a number of reasons. Kanaka labour ceased with a change of government policy and also the coastal areas first planted with coffee were more suitable for sugar cane. Market competition from Brazil and Colombia also made the industry less viable.
A photo of just a small fraction of the many many coffee machines from all over the world displayed at the Coffee Works. The man obviously spent his whole life building this vast collection. His voice is the one on the audio explainign his beloved machines, one by one.

It is an amazing collection and a very worthwhile tour which we enjoyed - Andrew still enjoying. His capacity for consuming chocolate is vastly greater than mine.
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Saturday, June 20, 2009

Guurrbi Tours - Cooktown

We took a great 4 hour tour of local Aboriginal rock art led by Willie Gordon a Nugal-warra Elder. The tour consisted of a 4 hour walk starting near Hope Vale which took us through the local landscape to six rock art sites including an ancestral Birth Cave and the Reconciliation Cave. Along the way, Willie also showed us some of the survival techniques of the Nugal-warra people including a taste of a green ant or two (Andrew did). Bush food and information about plants. Willie also talked about Aboriginal values and some aspects of culture. There is a 2 hour tour costing $65 and the 4 hour tour for $85. Willie is wonderfully informative and humorous guide. We enjoyed it. Here is the web address for the tours:

A narrow walk among the rocks.
This is a fascinating photo I think. Willie showed us how geckos like to drink out of a leaf held to their mouths. He threw a few twigs in front of a log and the gecko darted out and Willie - later me, that is my hand you see - held a leaf for the gecko to drink from. This was worth every penny of the tour as far as I was concerned.

One of the Aboroignal rock art sites.
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"Real camping" at a remote location

Camping at Lakefield was my (Nikki) first experience at real and remote camping. The above and following photos demonstrate some of the integral aspects of “real camping” for the benefit of those friends who are as inexperienced at it as I am/was. I also should point out that the walk to the toilet was approximately 300 metres.

The photo above shows getting fresh water out of the river for dishes etc. The bank is high and steep, for a safe distance between us and the resident croc, and the rope is to haul the bucket up. A bucket full of water is pretty heavy I may add. And it is not easy to get the empty bucket submerged enough to get any water - it takes some patience and skill.

Andrew with our solar shower. This is a large plastic bag which you fill with river water and leave in the sun for a couple of hours. The bag has an attachable nozzled shower head and you can have a lovely warm/hot shower. In fact, you need to be mindful of the water having heated up too much in the sun as there is no temperature control.

Pete making jaffles for breakfast. We also had potoatoes wrapped in foil in the hot ashes of the camp fire. Corn cobs, carrots and onions are also very good done like this. The billy always sat on the fire ready for a cuppa.

Just a shot of us out in Pete's tinnie.
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Camping at Hann Crossing continued

As I mentioned many times before, these wonderful rivers are full of crocodiles and tempting though the waters seem, swimming in them is out of the question. Here I am relaxing in other ways in the hammock.

Pete's triumphant return from his hunting and gathering.

The laksa I made from the fish head. This photo is especially for my friend George Gondor.

And how about this for a wonderful day's ending? This is one of the loveliest sunsets on this holiday so far.
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Hann Crossing - Lakeland National Park

We travelled approximately 200 kms north of Cooktown in order to meet up with Peter (Andrew’s middle son) and Toni (his wife) at Hann Crossing in Lakefield National Park. They were coming south from Seisa.

Lakefield is Queensland’s second largest national park and it is also one of the more isolated national parks on the Cape York Peninsula. The park is located within the Laura Basin that drains northwards into Princess Charlotte Bay.

Lakefiled is a remote park and the QNPW leaflet advises that visitors need to be self-sufficient with adequate food, water, fuel and basic vehicle repair equipment. Access to the park is only possible during the dry season from about April to November and 4WD vehicles are recommended. Vehicle access is not possible during the wet season. The photo above shows part of the lovely campsite.

Pete and Toni had two campsites booked on the river, as they are keen fishing people. Their friends Ken and Sue had been with them and after spending a pleasant evening being six, they left to attend the Laura Aboriginal Dance Festival leaving us four.

The next afternoon after our arrival, a couple of hours after their friends Sue and Ken left, Pete caught a lovely sized barramundi and Toni caught an almost as big one the day after. The photo attests to it. The next day Toni caught one only ever so slightly smaller. I need to add that until our arrival, Pete and Toni had no luck with fishing at this particular spot. It goes to show Sue and Ken, how the power of suggestion works. We willed Pete to be successful as I have been longing to try freshly caught fish. We discovered by they way that Sue and Ken Moffitt are long time bridge players and while I forgot to take any photos and we also desisted from a game because of Pete and Toni, we plan to meet again in Darwin sometime in July and have that game of bridge.

We had to delay having Andrew’s piece de resistance, spaghetti bolognaise in favour of the freshly caught barra. And I made a laksa from the fish head for lunch the next day – take note George Gondor – we thought of you as we eat the laksa. Photo coming up of our laksas. The blog can only take up to 4 photos at any one time it seems.

This photo shows Pete gutting and filleting the fish. Pete and Toni cooked it in the camp oven with some sambal oelek and lime juice. It was wonderful.
Another view of the North Kennedy River.
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Sunday, June 14, 2009

Crocodile safe swimming

This is a photo of one of the swimming pools at the Big 4 caravan park in Cooktown. (The other one is blue and not worthy of mention.)

And this is a close up of Nikki, just to reassure those who think that she is not enjoying this trip.

The bathers are new, purchased at the shop in the last caravan park we visited, the Pinnacle Caravan Park north of Mossman, near Wonga Beach. It is a really nice caravan park and reasonably priced. I judged it to have the nicest camp kitchen of any I have yet encountered and it has an oven.

This is not a swimming pool but a previously safe swimming hole at Endavour Falls, that has just been declared not safe, as a 3 metre crocodile was sighted about 3 weeks ago. You can now fully appreciate why I am smiling so broadly and confidently in the previous photo.
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Cooktown and beyond

This is a view of the Endeavour River and inlet that Lieutenant James Cook saw on 18 June 1770 from the Grassy Hill when he landed in the Endavour. The town that bears his name was a bustling town servicing the Palmer Goldfields in the last century. It is now a charming little town that provides the gateway to the north of Australia. Many travellers go only as far as Cooktown before heading back south and across to the Gulf of Carpenteria. We are venturing north a little way in order to meet up with Peter, Andrew's son and his wife Toni, at Hann Crossing at Lakefield National Park.

Is this the beginning of the red centre? Andrew tells me that parts of Australia are redder than this but this is as red as I have seen and I thought I would share it with everyone, especially our overseas followers.

This is a shot if a fairly typical creek crossing in a 4WD. It is taken at Isabella Falls, just north of Cooktown. We had just crossed ourselves and took this shot of the next car.

The coloured sands at Elim Beach. In order to reach this, driving 78 kms from Cooktown, we detached Priscilla and drove with Max. It is a long drive but the coloured sands are quite spectacular.
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