Thursday, September 03, 2009

- Atherton Tablelands -

After Georgetown we began the very scenic drive up into the Atherton Tablelands. It was certainly an eye opener coming in from the dry Savannah plains into the lush rolling green hills, ancient rain forest pockets and clouds hanging low around the mountain peaks! As we drove through Ravenshoe (The highest town in Qld) we stopped off to visit Millstream falls. This marked the beginning of the waterfall circuit which is a scenic drive via winding roads through rain forest visiting several waterfalls along the way. We pulled into Pepina &Zillie falls and finished off in the Dairy producing town of Milla Milla @ the aptly named Milla Milla falls set amongst the rain forest! It was beautiful!

(Milla Milla Falls)
Once back on the road we soaked up the beautiful scenery, travelling north through quaint little towns set amongst the rainforest's and mountains arriving at Lake Eacham for the night. As the sun set the fog settled in quickly, as did the cold!! Dropping below 12 degrees before I finished cooking dinner!! We certainly weren’t ready for the climatic change… rugging up for bed in almost everything we owned!!
(Lake Eacham is a volcanic crater)
The next morning we headed back east stopping in to visit the Curtain Fig Tree. I know you probably thinking “what the?” but it was definitely worth a look at natures work in all its glory. The Fig tree is from a strangler fig species & the curtain effect is the result of one tree leaning against another on a 45 degree angle. The strangler vine then grows along the leaning tree, dangling its feeding roots 15 metres to the ground creating the curtain effect. It was amazing and the sheer size is amazing the tree would have to be over 100 years old!
(The Curtain Fig Tree, Wet Tropics World Heritage Area, QLD)

Next stop was Atherton where we took a tour around the ‘Crystal Caves’. Created by an enthusiastic gem & mineral collector, it houses over 600 specimens making it one of the largest mineralogical collections in Australia. The shop is set up as an adventure museum, where you don on a hard hat with light and crawl, duck and weave your way around a series of chambers exploring the treasures usually found deep within the earths crust.

(Bren looking the part.)

The major attraction is the worlds largest Amethyst. I mean this thing is bloody HUGE!!! “The Empress of Uruguay” as its also known weighs a whopping 2.7 tons, 3.27metres in height and is worth a reported over A$250,000!!

(Me with "The Empress of Uruguay")
After all the exploring & excitement we travelled north in search of Coffee!!! We read in almost every guide book that the ‘Coffee Works’ in Mareeba are a “Must Do” while in the area. So off we headed… and boy it certainly didn’t disappoint!!

For $19 we got to taste local and aboard coffee, teas, liquors and chocolate it was awesome… all the different flavours, aromas, a coffee lovers dream! We learnt about the roasting process and then took a tour around the world’s largest coffee museum! There were coffee machines from the dark ages! I mean some of these machines looked more like model spaceships rather than just something you’d use in your daily routine!! We absolutely loved it… and they even gave you $5 each to spend in their gift shop!

(Bren making the most of the Coffee Experience!)

(1920's tea maker, on a timer!)

(One of the 2,000 Coffee Machines)
From all the Indulgence of coffee in Mareeba we headed back towards the coast to visit the Markets in the rain forest town of Kuranda. It’s a beautiful place; however we didn’t explore it completely as it being so close to Cairns we thought we’d take the trip up the ranges via the sky rail at a later date. So from Kuranda we headed down the mountain…Finally reaching our intended destination… Cairns, the South Pacific Ocean and ultimately the East Coast of Australia!
(Barron Falls, Kuranda QLD. Wet Season on Left, Sept 09 Right)

(Finally made it to the East Coast of Australia! View over Cairns)

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