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2005 June Australia Log PDF Printable Version E-mail
Article Index
Introduction
1 June 2005
12 June 2005
20 June 2005
Table of Costs

June 12 (398 km) KURANDA, Bec & Kev's Rainforest Garden House

Onto the Atherton Tablelands and into the Rain Forest

Talked with a friend of Sue Corbett, landlady of the Three Rivers Hotel. The original pub was literally moved along with the thirsty workmen, when 'from Townsville to Greenvale, they're building a line, through ranges and gorges to the great nickel mine ' The railway crossed the Star, Burdekin and Clarke Rivers. The pub finally came to rest at the end of the line: the Greenvale Hotel. Replaced by a new building, it was renamed after Stan & Slim's ballad and their portraits adorn the bar, with a memorial outside to Stan Coster, who won Tamworth's 'Golden Guitar' for Best Composition with the song in 1977. Greenvale today has a population of 80, mainly retired: houses are cheap, there is a golf course (made on sand mixed with oil), Olympic size pool, library, post office and school serving the region, though serious shopping means a 200 km trip to Townsville or Charters Towers.

We went north on the narrow Great Inland Way, through dry termite-mound-studded beef country where gaunt white Brahman cattle were huddled round shrinking waterholes. After 52 km, the junction with an unsealed road to Hughenden (256 km of dirt) was marked by THE LYND roadhouse and van park, claiming to be the country's smallest bar. We continued north-west on the bitumen, the road climbing steadily from 1,400 ft at Greenvale to over 3,000 ft, the climate getting greener and fresher.

The Gt Inland Way joined Highway 1 (the Savannah Way, Broome-Cairns) after 108 km, putting us back on the route we'd taken to Kuranda in 2002. Stopped to lunch in the Forty Mile Scrub National Park picnic area, which offered a 10-minute walk into 'Dry Rain Forest', a curious oxymoron. The termites were now building big bulbous mounds (known as Cathedrals). Though busier, the road was still single lane with few overtaking sections, regularly forcing us onto the rough verge to avoid collision. Another 68 km to MOUNT GARNET, a town at 2,236 ft with fuel and a caravan park, after which we could relax on a 2-lane highway.

At the spa of INNOT HOT SPRINGS, we were on the edge of the Atherton Tablelands the wooded highlands behind Cairns, opened up for tin mining in the 1870's. Free-campers had gathered at Archer Creek, at a discreet distance along the road from the Hot Springs Caravan Park. Much of the forest has been cleared for dairy cattle and a variety of crops, enjoying monsoonal rain. 45 km from Mt Garnet, the highway reaches RAVENSHOE (Queensland's highest town at 3,228 ft). The road continues to climb to a maximum of 3,650 ft, passing a windfarm on the ridge near Millaa Millaa and 2 junctions with access roads from the coast. We were amazed at the lush green grass and black & white cows covering volcanic hillsides, reminiscent of New Zealand. We had left the dusty outback to re-enter civilisation at ATHERTON (all services, including cheaper fuel and McDonalds). Visit www.athertontablelands.com for Tropical Tablelands Tourism.

Over the next 30 km to MAREEBA we passed another free-camping place at Rocky Creek War Memorial. Crops of avocado, bananas, sugarcane and coffee are evidence of the warm wet climate on the Tablelands, where tobacco was also grown until recently.

Turning east, we descended Oz_(493).JPGfor 32 km to KURANDA, a tourist village at the head of the Barron Gorge (linked to Cairns by both scenic railway and Skyrail cable car). A few miles from here, under the cane railway and over the Barron River (luckily not in flood at this timeOz_(481).JPG of year), is the rainforest home of friends Bec & Kev (Australian Rebecca and Kevin from England).

They offered us an idyllic camping spot in their extensive 'garden in a forest, that the world has never seen'. The motorhome fitted nicely on a shelf at the end of their forest track, leading off the road we had followed from Kuranda. Soon, an electrical lead snaked its way up from the house below, giving us the energy to keep the battery charged and the refrigerator compressing.

JUNE 13/19 KURANDA, Bec & Kev's Rainforest Garden Home

A delightful week working, walking, talking and eating with Bec and Kev

Oz_(156).JPGBec and Kev made us (and our website) very much at home for the next week. They are both professional computer programmers and Bec, with close support from Kev, is responsible for the design, structure and format of our new website.

We enjoyed good company and excellent meals, dining and talking the evenings away on the verandah: the natural extension to the wooden stilt house. Built out at tree-top height in the Tropical Rain Forest, 1Oz_(491).JPG,250 ft above Cairns, it is the perfect platform for watching the wildlife below. In the daytime, pretty red-browed finches and emerald doves came to feed at the bird table and lizards darted through the outdoor bathroom. At dusk the delightful pademelons (forest wallabies partial to bananas and carrots), possums and bandicoots emerged. The calls of the whip-birds and tree-frogs intensified after dark, when we were pleased not to meet any pythons or venomous creatures the large Huntsman Spider was enough (albeit non-poisonous). And yes, the weather was both tropical and wet!

Exploring the 'garden' and the track to the Barron River was a delight. Simply fetching the mail or reading the electOz_(490).JPGricity meter was a nature walk in itself. Yet this lifestyle comes with the comforts of internet connection, dishwasher and automatic washing machine: all a very welcome change from life on the road.

Bec and Kev have 3 desktop computers and Oz_(477).JPGenough spare leads to connect our laptop to the net as well. Once Kev had left for his work with the Police in Cairns, we all settled down to keyboards, on and off-line. Bec had her own work, often interrupted by requests for help and support from us, as we worked on the content of this very website. During this week we made giant strides putting in the remaining articles and logs (there is much more waiting in the UK), images, labelling, formatting. The internet highlight of the week was discovering ways to open a 'Useful Links' page (hopefully to be reciprocated in due course) and a page for 'Readers' Comments'. Overall, this was a very satisfying and creative period of friendship and co-operation, now enshrined in www.magbaztravels.com

Not that it was all work other highlights were the chicken barbecue, an Indian evening with Kev's poppadoms and the downloading and viewing of a brilliantly funny animated video-clip about the dreaded Cane Toad made by 2 young Australian film students (visit www.cane-toad.com).