Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Eastcoast of North Queensland

A completely different climate. Coming from the interior, Queensland, Northern Territory and Western Australia, what I notice most, the light seems to have changed, softer, somehow more mellow, none of that 'pushing-you-into-the-pavement' kind of sunlight, bright, unrelenting and intense as I have experienced. Even the air seems to have mellowed, the dust gone, more humid, yes, but somehow more gentle...

From Ingham I travel lots of backroads toward the coast, then back again to the main highway, a bit further north, then again back to the coast to check yet another beach.

Sugar Cane wherever I look, then narrow gauge trains delivering the harvested cane to the Sugar mills.

I drive out to 'Forrest', then 'Taylors' and finally 'Lucinda Beach'. All of them with islands across the water, so no clear view of the ocean. I finally stop and stay the night at Cardwell, which is opposite the noth end of 'Hinchinbrook Island'.

A visitor arrived during the night, apparently feeling quite at home on my chair.

The following morning I drive further north again, this time out to the coast again the one with good views, which is of course, Mission Beach.

Looking across the water from Mission Beach

I remember the last time I was at Mission Beach, about 25 years ago when there was nothing there in the way of infra structure, like Resorts, Shopping Centres and, of course camp grounds, also charging premium fees.

I meet two German tourists enjoying their final week before having to return to Cologne and the up-coming European Winter. They both recommend a spot a little further up the coast which turns out really nice when I check it. I continue further north to Innisfail, where I turn in-land again to drive up to the Tablelands, in fact, this is part of the range of mountains and hills that form part of the coastline as I travel north.

Coming closer to Mission Beach

Gradually, the road takes me to higher and higher levels and with that the temperature gets ever more pleasant. Initially there is also sugar cane fields, gradually being replaced with fruit and vegetable growing fields. Parts of the Tablelands are in excess of 800m above sealevel, so I am in a different climatic zone. Green rolling hills, open views, rivers and waterfalls reminding me once again of some views I had seen in New Zealand on North Island. Simply beautiful!

I spend the night at the town of Atherton in a quiet campground, also notice that the night air is quite crisp as I wake up, looking for another blanket to keep me warm. I leave next morning, just after 8 am toward Cairns, but spot a sign about 20km along my way, pointing to my left, saying "Granite Gorge 19km". As I love rocks and rock formations I decide to go-have-a-look.

Lots of rocks to be climbed over

Above the gorge water is held back by a weir. There has to be a torrent of rushing water through the gorge but now only a gentle flow of water can be heard as I get deeper into the gorge.
It turns out quite interesting, with me having to climb all over Granite Rocks down a Gorge with quite a few Rock Wallabies with much shorter hind legs than those I have seen before.

Rock Wallaby with baby in pouch

I am also told by the Ranger that these are unique to the area and indeed Australia. They certainly look extremely agile jumping all over the rocks, many of them with tiny babies in their pouch.

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