Kuranda as well as being a hippies hang out in the 60’s, is the home of the original Tjapukai theatre. If you have a spare day to do a trip up on the Kuranda rail, you’ll pass the spot of a modern day heist, in the 70’s.
Mareeba proudly boasts 300 days of sunshine per year. If you yearn for a 1950’s style café, Drive In or even drive through bakery, the times have not a changed much in this country town! Formerly a tobacco growing region it now produces 90% of Australian coffee. Check out the Rock Wallabies at Granite Gorge or Jabirus/Brolgas at the Wetlands.
Chillagoe is surrounded by a dramatic landscape created by massive marble bluffs and rock formations. Check out the limestone Caves (Mungana). Pompeii, Bauhinia and the Archway caves are self-guided. Tours are required to see through the Donna, Trezkinn and Royal Arch caves.
Atherton originally a timber getters camp, is built on an extinct volcano. You can see it’s seven sisters from the lookout on top of Halloran Hill. There are many other craters and lakes on the tablelands, including Lake Eacham and Barrine, where you’ll see the 1100 year old Kauri Pines a short stroll away. The volcanic soils of the Atherton Tablelands have made the area known as one of the ‘bread baskets of Australia’.
Mt Hippippame is a deep, cylindrical volcanic pipe or vent (diatreme), thought to have been created by a massive gas explosion. The crater is less than 70 m across with sheer granite walls (the surface rock through which the gas exploded). Fifty-eight metres below the rim is a lake about 82 m deep covered with a green layer of native waterweed. Pretty cool if you’re into dropping pebbles from a height and want to hearing the echo.
Lumholtz Tree Kangaroo is a rare nocturnal mammal, endemic to the wet tropics (its cousin the Bennetts lives further north behind the Daintree). It lives in the canopy of rainforests and adjacent wet sclerophyll forests. It is thought to have evolved from kangaroos, and returned to the trees just like its possum like ancestors. It is the size of a small dog, with a long black tail, black face and paws and strong forelimbs. It does move between rainforest patches, so please be careful and keep your beedy eyes on the lookout for a sighting!
Milla Milla is home to many a Fall.. visit Milla Milla and surrounding Zillie and Ellinjaa Falls… don’t forget to get a happy snap of the farmer, cow and blue heeler while you’re in town sipping on a Misty Mountains jersey milk shake.
Malanda boasts the oldest, continually operating picture theatre in Australia, the Majestic.
Yungaburra is a quaint little town at the tip of Tineroo Dam, full as a goog at the moment and brim full of Barra. A good spot for holing up on a post ride recoup, or if your into folk music, making a return visit for its annual Folk Festival in October.
Herberton is the oldest town on the Tablelands. The Herberton Village is a collectors dream, containing over 50 original buildings with intact interior displays, original machinery and vehicles, plus thousands of genuine antique items and period memorabilia. It is regarded as the most significant ever assembled in Queensland.
Ravenshoe is the highest town in Qld, and you’ll feel it too. It is also a windy spot, prime for the wind farm nearby. Brrrr…time to get out the Ugg boots.
Mt Garnet’s heyday was founded on copper, silver and zinc deposits (so how did it get named after garnet, pray tell!). It is now known for its annual Races and Rodeo, held on the May Day long weekend.
Innot Hot Springs is good for warming up the toes after prior freezing and stomp dancing. Yes, tropical wusses we certainly are!
40 Mile Scrub boasts a rare and relatively unique vine thicket that sits on a recent cap of volcanic basalt flow. Bottle, white cedar, fig and white bean trees grow in the semi-evergreen vine-thicket, one of the few inland dry rainforest remnants in north Queensland. This park is part of the Undara lava fields and its once quite extensive rainforest vegetation is now considered nationally significant.
Undara Lava Tubes The word Undara means ‘a long way’ in Aboriginal language. One of the lava flows from Undara extends over 160 kilometres. This makes it the longest flow from a single volcano on our planet in modern geological time. Formed 190,000 years ago, it spewed out over 23 cubic km of molten lava, enough liquid to fill Sydney Harbour 3-4 times. The lava tubes lie hidden beneath their own lush canopies of monsoon forest, incongruous with the surrounding woodlands. The vegetation has evolved from the time of Gondwana and is only found in a few rainforests throughout the world (Madagascar, for example). Just as the lava tubes are reliant on this ancient vegetation for protection, so too is the forest dependent on the tubes to shelter it from wind and fire and to provide rich lava nutrient and moisture. Several sections of tubes are accessible.
Oak Park is located 64 kilometres south of the Lynd Junction. It is famous for its Amateur Picnic Races, held annually. Activities are held for all the family in the week leading up to the races.
Mt Surprise sits on the edge of the immense Undara lava field caused by ancient volcanic eruptions in the McBride Plateau. It is also a stop for the Savannahlander railway, the surrounding country being flat, wooded savannah grasslands, with isolated hills. O’Briens Creek Gemfield near Mount Surprise, a designated fossicking area, is well known for gem quality topaz attracting visitors from all over the world (and is a good camping spot).
Georgetown Situated west of the Newcastle Range, this is the centre for the Etheridge Goldfield, which is renowned for its semi-precious stones, including topaz, quartz, spinel, garnet, cairngorm, aquamarine and sapphires. Visit the TerrEstrial Centre to see the multi award winning Ted Elliott Mineral collection, containing over 4 500 mineral specimens in a myriad of fascinating colours and shapes from the region and throughout the world. Georgetown’s Hall, next to the Shire Council offices is a restoration delight, worth a sticky beak.
Einasleigh’s copper deposit was one of the earliest mineral discoveries in north Queensland, found by Richard Daintree in 1866. The town briefly became the largest population centre in the shire during construction of the Chillagoe Company’s Etheridge Railway in the years 1907-10. Explore the Copperfield Gorge, across from the Einasleigh Hotel (remnant of an era gone by), with its sheer walls dropping into the sandy river bottom. This area is the south-eastern boundary of the Undara lava field and here the river has cut through a lava fissure giving the visitor another aspect of the lava flow.
Cobbold Gorge, located about 90km from Georgetown, is rich in beauty and history. Situated on Robin Hood Station (next door to Sherwood mining lease), the Gorge is unique and hidden away within the rugged sandstone formation. It is extremely narrow, closing to a mere two meters wide in places, with spectacular 30 metre cliffs on either side. The overall length of the gorge is about six kilometres and consists of a series of water-holes and rock falls, however only the last 500 meters is accessible by flat bottom boat.
Forsayth is the terminus of the ‘Savannahlander’ Cairns to Forsayth rail trip. This area is located within the Etheridge Goldfield and en route to the Agate Creek Mineral Reserve.
Croydon is an historic gold rush town. During its heyday, Croydon was the fourth largest town in the colony of Queensland. When first settled in the 1880s it was a large pastoral holding covering an area of approximately 5,000 km2. Gold was discovered in 1885 and by 1887, the town’s population had reached 7,000. Gold was the focus for four decades, but by 1926 it was all over red rover. Many Brits, Irish, other European nationalities and a few Chinese numbered it’s head count.
One of the original hospital buildings is still in existence across the road from the pub (where there is a story of a ghost residing in the upstairs linen cupboard!). Check out the old picture theatre, courthouse and lockup behind the visitors centre too. Croydon General Store, which has continuously traded since 1894, is another living icon. There is also a Chinese Temple (plus a classic pig oven) on the way up the range to Lake Belmore – definitely worth a flick (for Barra), swim, waterski or BBQ and some sunset drinks.
Normanton in the late 1800’s, was a boomtown and by 1891 boasting its own railway when the line to service the Croydon goldfields was completed. From Normanton the famous Burns Philp & Company spread its empire into the South Pacific. It is home to the giant croc AND don’t forget to keep an eye out for that Morning Glory. Saw one myself lying in my swag at the Normanton Rodeo grounds (during a Dist Ed camp). First you hear a roar, then see it roll on by. Truly amazing!
Les Wilsom Barramundi Discovery Centre
While in Normanton don’t miss out visiting the new Les Wilson Barramundi Discovery Centre. Truly something not to be missed. From humble beginnings with second hand donated equipment, the Centre was established by a group of professional fishermen who set out to restock the local waterways with fingerlings to ensure a sustainable fishing future for years to come. They became known as the Gulf Barramundi Restocking Association. The brand new interactive and state of the art Interpretive Centre provides the history, stories, lifecycle and habits of these sought-after fish. Explore the wetlands and mangroves and learn about the incredible birdlife and stunning southern Gulf flora.
Take a tour of the hatchery, and say G’day to Flossie, the over 1m long female Barramundi! Enjoy the excitement of the feeding spectacle!
The impressive building has won Regional, State and National Architectural awards. It is 130m long, made from 87 tons of structural steel, 50 tons of hardwood joists and 11,000 bolts and wraps around a large saltwater lagoon. Enjoy coffee and cakes or a beautiful seafood meal and glass of wine in our restaurant. There is also a conference and events Centre for corporate and private events.
Karumba is your gateway to the Gulf and all things fishing. Home to many a trawler, mackerel and barra enterprise you’ll meet some interesting characters and storytellers in this town. Enjoy toasting your ride completion overlooking the spectacular sunset from Karumba Point.
For information on snorkeling, diving and visiting the Great Barrier Reef visit our sponsor Passions of Paradise www.passions.com.au
Further information, see Council websites:
Tablelands Regional Council
Etheridge Shire Council
Croydon Shire Council
Carpentaria Shire Council
Gulf Savannah Development