We called in a the Undara Lava Tubes for a tour. We took the active tour which involves rock scrambling down into ancient lava tubes. There is another tour with board walks. Both come with guides.
The tubes were formed when lava flowed slowly through old river beds across this very flat plain. The tubes cooled and crusted on the outside while the middles stayed molten and kept flowing. They’ve found 68 tubes at Undara.
We couldn’t stay there because it was a national park and we had a dog, but it was a very pretty place, and if you don’t have your own camper, you can stay in an old railway carriage. The restaurant and bar also have train carriages.
We went on to a free camp at Cumberland, outside of Georgetown. Just a large chimney and a dam and wetland, remain there from when there was a bustling gold mine town there.
It’s a lovely landscape. And the sky does weird things out here.
When you’re going to or leaving the Daintree you pass through these amazing black mountains all made of giant boulders and killer snakes. It looks like giants just tumbled massive boulders all in a heap but what actually happened was the land pushed up from below cracking up the layer of granite, in the same way mesa’s are formed in the US but the layer of black granite creates a very different effect.
Yungaburra is an old cute town up on the Atherton Tablelands. While the rest of the state is sweltering, the folks up on the Tablelands are cool. The temperature seems to vary about 10C all year round, but they also have a lake made from a dam, and lovely views, so this quaint old town seems to attract a few retirees.
From Yungaburra we pushed on to the Innot Hot Springs, rain was coming in so we figured if we were gonna be wet, we may as well hang out in a hot pool.
Boiling water just falls down into the creek, and people can dig pools there and try not to cook themselves, not a word of warning anywhere, or you can stay at the springs camp which includes free entry to their pools. Most of it seems to have been built in the 70s, some areas have been spruced up with some amazing stone work, but there’s still a lot of dag, but soaking in iron rich pools has got to be good for you, right?
Only four-wheel drives take the shortcut. Big rigs go the long way round.
We stayed in Upper Daintree, at a camp just above the boat ramp. Handy for boat rides up and down the river. This was the view from our toilet window:
And this was the view on the river:
Those cows didn’t get the croc memo. And yes, that croc has a wild boar he caught and is saving for when he’s hungry. A well-fed croc is still dangerous.
We took the bike across the river on the car ferry into the Daintree for a tour around.
Such a beautiful place. Bush and beaches and exotic fruit farms serving exotically-flavoured ice-cream. And there’s cassowaries, but I don’t think they like motorbike noise!
Straight up to Cooktown, and what a picturesque little town it is. Sea views, cute old buildings, and super laid back.
We stayed out at the racecourse which is another of those free camps. It came with an extra dog. We called her New Dog, she’s kind of a meet and greet service and available to come and play with all dogs you walk on the racecourse and to eat any barbecue scraps you may need to get rid of.
Old dog is very sleepy.
We were in time for the Cooktown Festival complete with a reenactment of Cook’s visit, his failed attempts to trade, and his upsetting of the locals by stealing their turtles. The locals burned the surrounding hillsides when his ship pulled out, to try and get rid of all the whitefulla spirits. Of course, that didn’t work because they came back years later, gave them all smallpox and stole their land, still it was worth a shot.
So off to Cairns for Ken to stay with Neil, a friend from Melbourne, who hosts a lot of our friends, and really has the place for it, with an airy home and pool, right opposite the golf course out at Yorkey’s Knob.
Which was handily close to the airport for me to fly back to Melbourne for a week to attend a con and check on the kids.
So I didn’t see much of Cairns or Yorkey’s but I did see Neil’s pool!
Off to stay at the cattle ranch of friends, Cathy and David, just north of Innisfail. Cathy and I are writing buddies and Cathy is the magistrate there as well, so I got a tour of the courthouse in Innisfail. The town was levelled in a cyclone back in the 30s so it’s all glorious art deco now. The wharf area is great too.
Their place was a great base to explore the Josephine Falls and the Babinda Boulders too. We stayed an extra night in Babinda as well.
And here’s some giant things… just so you know we’re still in Queensland:
Halliday Bay is exactly what you’d expect from a Queensland beach holiday. A tiny remote bay surrounded by bush, where we got to stay right next to the beach and the golf club. It was $23 a night which included one game of golf per day (worth $20). There was a swimming net so we were able to take a swim everyday and not worry about crocs.
Gladstone’s a city that manages to combine great views with heavy industry and has a very nice library. I see a lot of libraries in my hunt for data.
Rockhampton feels huge by comparison, spread out, loads of old Queenslander houses.
We stopped off at the rodeo at St Lawrence which is next to a wetlands, and has free camping. So there was a heap of wildlife, including a giant goose which is apparently a Bustard. I’ll say!
From Mt Alford we went straight up to Yandina to catch up with friends who’ve moved there, Linda and Graeme (Happy Pants) who’ve bought a wonderful old Queenslander. Handy to Noosa and great beaches, Yandina is a little town on the old highway heading north, now made suddenly quiet by the new highway.
We spent a few days sightseeing and catching up with them and headed north again to Bundaberg. Ken got in a quick rum tour and we went on again to spend a few days at the river at Calliope near Gladstone.
Mac was heading off for the weekend and our cousins in Brisbane were also away for the weekend so we decided to head out of the Gold Coast and free camp at the Mt Alford Pub.
Mt Alford is a super tiny town inland of Mt Tambourine and part of the ‘scenic rim’. It’s surrounded by small ranges. The camping is a paddock at the back of the Mt Alford hotel. Lots of space to camp anywhere, with toilets at the park next door. The meals at the pub were really huge and made mostly on site, and were super cheap, so it was easy to pop in there in the evening and have a meal and a beer. They also sell the beer from the brewery across the road which is only open Thurs-Sun. Locals were friendly and chatty and Dave and Rob the owners were great.
Very pretty countryside for riding and again we went swimming at lake Moogerah, making the locals shake their heads at the idiots who dared to brave the water at a mere 25C or so! Honestly! It’s not cold!
It was also a good spot to hook up with the Brisbane cousins the next weekend and go touring around Mt Tambourine.
After first tracking down the sled dogs to see them doing some dry running in the Karawatha Forest in Logan. This was the final part of my Neilma Sidney Literary Travel Grant (there are sled dogs in my next book, Dry Running). All my grant trips are done! I’d love to do this sport if I had time to look after big energetic dogs.