Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Leaving Cairns behind

On Saturday, 27th August we packed up and left the coast behind.  As we made our way to the beginning of the Savannah Way we passed a fruit stall selling bananas for $8.99 a kilo.  What a bargain as bananas are still $12-$14 a kilo in the supermarkets.  So a stop was necessary and we loved having banana sandwiches for lunch.  I have so missed having bananas each day.  Alongside the highway there was an information stand providing details of the Savannah Way route from Cairns to Broome.  We learnt lots we didn't know.

The road out of Cairns at the commencement of the Savannah Way is a steep road through the range to Kuranda.  The Skyrail gondolas were passing over the road as we twisted this way and that up the range.    Although we had been to Kuranda Village when we took the Skyrail with Roanne and Roger and children, we stopped off again and wandered through the various markets.  On our return to the car we realised that we had missed disconnecting the power to the caravan which powers the fridge/freezer.  When the car is not mobile this takes a large draw from the car battery.  Fortunately with the assistance from our jump start the car did start but we were lucky. 

Fingers crossed - Kuranda
We continued on to Tolga which is about twelve kms north of Atherton and set up camp at Rocky Creek War Memorial Park - a very pleasant park built in the grounds of the original military hospital from World War II.  There is still one of the original buildings, across the road from the park, but it is in very poor condition now.

The Tablelands is an agricultural area growing a variety of products including potatoes, mangoes, peanuts, various vegetables and hay.  The area is irrigated from the man made lake - Lake Tinaroo - which was built in the early 1950's.  We visited the lake area on Sunday.  There are about five camping areas around the lake and also a number of formal camping grounds.  The area is very popular as their is an abundance of barramundi in the lake.

I had one necessity for Monday - I had been chewing a sweet on Friday afternoon and had broken the side of a tooth.  8 am on Monday I was on the telephone ringing the dentists in the area looking for an appointment.  Initially it looked as though we would need to return to Karunda (about 70 kms back towards Cairns) but a cancellation became available in Mareeba for 9 am - as I was ringing around while sitting in bed it was a challenge to be up, showered and completed the 25 kms trip to Mareeba in forty odd minutes but we made it only a few minutes late.  I much appreciated the good service and a temporary filling is now in place and will need to be fixed when we are in Melbourne in November.

We assisted the economy of Mareeba by buying the service station (or it felt like it just paying for the diesel) and topping up the groceries.  There are a lot of bananas growing in the Mareeba area and we were disappointing to find that they fruit is still not ready for picking so there were no stalls selling the fruit.

On Tuesday the Patrol was booked in to have a second battery installed so we had to be in Atherton (12 kms away) by 8 am.  We spent the morning looking through the shops and the car was ready by around midday.  In the afternoon we went to Yurrabunga which is a small town on the shores of Lake Tinaroo.  Near the town there is a "curtain fig tree" which was really interesting to see.  From here we drove to Milandra to see the falls and visited the dairy museum. There is a lot of dairy farming in the area.  Unfortunately the tours of the dairy factory were not running.  On our return to the caravan we stopped at a farm which operates a cheese and ice creamery.  The milking of the cows was in progress and the public were allowed to visit the calf house and then go to the milking shed to see the progress.  They milked 260 cows on a 42 cow rotary - it was interesting to note the interest expressed by others visiting but of course we have seen the milking process many times before.

On Wednesday we had another early start as the Patrol was booked in for it's 30,000 km service.  We had been fortunate to get this booking as when we had telephoned the Cairns Nissan branch back on the 18th August the first appointment they could offer us was the 12th September.  We did not want to wait around until then so when we could have the service completed in Atherton on the 31st August we made this booking.  The service only took 2 1/2 hours so we can now continue our trip west.

Many communities offer free camping as a way to encourage visitors to the area to stay a while and assist the local economy.  We certainly did our bit for Atherton with both the car service and the new battery plus incidental shopping.

We hooked the caravan on and paid a short visit to Herberton to see the historic village.  From there we made another diverstion to Millea Millea to visit the three waterfalls in the area.   They were well worth diverting to go and see.  As we continued closer to Ravenshoe, which is the highest town in Queensland, we passed the wind farm which has 20 power turbines.  We were surprised that some of the turbines were so close to the farm houses in the area.

We are staying in the small town of Ravenshoe - there are a couple of pubs, an IGA and a Foodworks supermarket, a hairdressers and a couple of takeaway shops.  There is a very active volunteer group restoring a steam train and we are staying in the reserve adjacent to the railway - unfortunately for us there is a long wait to take a train trip as it only operates on a Sunday.  There is ten km track to a neighbouring town.
 Cairns Villa & Leisure Park
Savannah Way sign

 Burketown info
 Next stop Atherton

Mt Surprise to Normanton

Aboriginal artist Kuranda

Perhaps this is the way to travel Australia!

Interesting Signage

How the curtain fig tree happens

Ruins of military hospital Tolga

 Millaa Millaa Falls

 Zillie Falls

 Height of Zillie Falls

 Ellinjaa Falls

 Lake Tinaroo info

Tinaroo dam opened 1959

Across Lake Tinaroo
 Irrigation outlet

 Leakage in wall Lake Tinaroo

Lone camper Lake Tinaroo

 Herberton Historic Village

Herberton Historic Village

Herberton Historic Village

A reluctant cow - art!  Millaa Millaa
Detail about art

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