Monday, 18 October 2010

A Little Less North to Atherton

A dream pack up this morning considering we had the added task of removing the walls from around the kitchen area of the camper trailer. We rarely erect them but faced with mosquitoes as big as fruit bats - a local colloquialism - it seemed a prudent precaution and with the rain we had on the first day and night at Daintree, it also gave us an extra space to remain dry in. The area is enclosed around the three open sides of the canopy which is attacked to the back wall of the camper, over the main access door. It's Achilles Heal is the area under the back swing door of the trailer itself which appears to have been designed to take a skirt of canvas to attach of Velcro. We counter this with a mozzie zapper which is placed above the opening and very effectively removes incoming insect pests.

It doesn't however prevent larger visitors and last night, as we drank our post dinner cup of tea, the noise which Sue heard under the table was an inquisitive Northern Long Nosed Bandicoot called Simon, well known in these part and a fairly regular visitor to campsites. It would be a lie to say we weren't startled but we soon recovered and just stood and watched Simon literally nose about to see if we had discarded any offcuts to the ground. He wasn't in anyway perturbed by our presence in his oversized larder and moved about, sniffing boots as much as anything else and then waddled back the way he had come, not to be seen again.

Mossman Gorge
After taking on petrol and rewarding ourselves with a cup of coffee at Mossman, we drove the short distance to Mossman Gorge, which became even shorter because the Qld National Parks are installing new elevated walkways to reduce the impact on the park the large annual foot traffic is having. This has reduced parking to nil at the entrance to the park, so parking areas have been set up up a few kilometres from the park entrance and a free shuttle bus runs every 15 mins to transport visitors. We arrived fairly early, so the carpark boasted barely six or seven cars. An hour later, all three carparks were full ... upwards of 200 cars by my count.

The onslaught is aided and abetted by tours which arrive in their Croc Dundee livery and of course, are allowed to park right at the entrance. As a result, our hour walking in the gorge was marred somewhat by a constant stream of singletted blokes in shorts and thongs, women in skimpy fashions down to bikini tops and shorts which must have been applied by skin graft and kids. Actually, most of the kids were pretty cool because they were asking questions, often really good questions and credit to most of their parents, they were having a good crack at providing good answers.

About 40% of those present just wanting to breeze in, do the circuit and then hop back on the bus: tramping along, seeing little but a background of green and the water cascading down the Mossman River. I wonder what the traditional owners think, the Kuku Yalanji, as they man the gates of the park, waving politely to every blurred minibus that flashes by. Their own community precedes the park, a place where they live and work, including a group of artists who stock a fine little gallery and another who run interpretive tours in Mossman Gorge, the southern most extent of the The Daintree. Very few visitors today were asking to be dropped of at the community's attractions.

When we entered the park, we held back and allowed a group of about twenty to go on ahead of us, unaware that this was a fruitless gesture. When we finally wandered in, we met two of the traditional owners in their park uniforms. We said our usual cheery hello and I think I said something about thank you. I'm not sure whether it was our walking boots and general attire or whether it was my camera attached to my big telephoto lens but they stopped, conferred with each other in their language and when both had agreed, one told us of the location of a Boyd's Forest Dragon on a tree not far ahead of us. It was our distinct impression this was a privilege.

We found the creature and took some pictures and when others stormed on past, we thought it might be best to keep our knowledge to ourselves.

The views of the river were spectacular as it was flowing vigorously after weeks of rain. The town water for Mossman and Cairns is taken from a lake above this point and has, amazingly, never been in short supply. In the end, the freeway of people zooming up and back as we tried to watch little birdies and forest critters got too much for me and I was happy to leave. I was also cheesed off, as this was a bushwalk we had planned since before leaving Tamworth and the main reason I had worked so hard with exercises to get my knee in working order after I injured myself at the start of the tour in the reunion game in Armidale. Before we started the walk I had a near collision with one of the Flash Jack tour operators as I was entering the toilets, twisting the same knee and putting myself back three weeks. It's swollen tonight.

We returned to the carpark to find a dopey bugger had boxed me in in their effort to make sure they got the car parking space they wanted. I had to cut and fill, backwards and forward with the trailer on, to extricate myself. I left him/her an explanatory note as to the inconvenience they had caused.

Mereeba Wetlands
Soon enough we were heading up the mountain range behind Mossman on our way to the Atherton Tableland. We stopped a couple of times - at a lookout and then at a fruit stall - before having lunch at a free camping area near Mount Molloy, where we listened to Pat Drummond and ate the newly acquired fruit whilst watching a group of blokes trying to put a prime mover onto a low loader.

In the afternoon, our major stop was at the Mareeba Wetlands, a privately run facility which is like an oversized bird hide. This was a real treat and it included a pot of the local Nerada tea. The birdies were beautiful and the company was very pleasant. The place has rather expensive lodges (no camping) and tours at different times of the day to observe birds on the wetland. Entry to the visitors centre and bird watching from their is free.

Our final push was on to Atherton, where we shopped and picked up some medical supplies. I was able to make contact with a local military historian who may have some information to share on John Gibbens time spent of the Atherton Tableland during 1944/45 training with his unit, the 2/3 Commandos.

1 comment:

  1. Looks amazing!!!! /I look forward to your feedback /thanks for this man it was very helpful.

    Campervan Cairns


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