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heading for the coast

but a few quick stops first...

Finally resolving to stay put for a few days to catch up on a few things... one being this blog... after spending the past weeks chasing up the coast via a trip to Sydney we now find ourselves in the Big4 camp kitchen in Port Douglas watching New Zealand play Australia in a Bledisloe Cup build-up to the world cup. Around us a couple of poms and an Aussie family travelling for 12 months with two young kids - home schooling along the way and picking up some work where possible... so who's coming to join us...?

Aside from a quick whirlwind trip back home for a week taking in some old guy's 50th, which was a great opportunity to catch up with everyone, we headed north again from Capela (the home of the camel races) to Theresa Creek Dam just south west of Clemont (where..?). Arriving we were presented with the delema of which group of Grey Nomads we should align ourselves with - the 40 ft caravans sporting Ford F250 diesel guzzlers upper class or the revamped busses and Jayco's from the '60's shivering from the decibels from the ancient generators running the Engel freezers...

Figuring the freezers were for the fish being hauled, we decided to go to where we may learn something... and learn we did. Firstly how delicious redclaw was (fresh water lobster) and secondly that we had no idea how to catch them. Ang quickly arranged a private lesson with a very abliging old boy and soon we were out on the kayak armed with borrowed nets and an enticing feast of half boiled potato, sunlight soap and naartjie (mandarin) skins. Dropping the net on the edge of the water lilies seemed to do the trick and we had a couple of lunches of redclaw in garlic butter or in a mayo sauce over a salad - yum!

Conversing with a butcher bird...

Heading towards Airlie to meet 'the girls' we took a detour through Moranbah, the rental property mecca of north QLD. Popping in to the real estate agents... in short crappy houses fetching $600k but being rented for $1,200 pw... Investors queueing up with cash to buy, we figured Moranbah has been done... moving on... but a quick stop at a local hotspot gave us some awesome sights of all sorts of birds of prey.

black kites, whistling kites, little eagles (some ravens, crows and others..)

for as long as we could stand the smell...

Heading to Eungella for our overnight we got distracted by a rusted old sign 'Mount Britton'. Why was this place not on the map? We're so often amazed by the little gems that seem to jump out at us and give us an unexpected bit of magic. Mount Britton is... well nothing really - an ex-town with an ex-gold mine, a couple of ex-pubs and a current unused school house that looks like it will be 'ex' very soon. we were able to set up camp in the middle of (ex)town mainly because everything that would constitute a town was now gone, bar a few bits of old mining equipment and the said school house. Strangely, the entire area is kept mowed and street signs maintained, although the streets have long since disappeared.

We did our usual bicycle tour of the area and then as we were about to settle down for the night, our to-be neighbour for the evening drove in. Of-course any new face means Ang has to flick into entertaining mode, so our new neighbour came for dinner. At 70-odd touring around alone with his home-brewed rum, scotch and an array of mouth-organs he turned out to be quite a personality. A great evening ensued with assistance of the said home-brew and we sang very old songs to the sounds of the mouth organs and recounted too many dark secrets all around. Why we feel comfortable speaking to perfect strangers about things we would not disclose to even family, I'll never know - some call it the hairdresser syndrome...?

the usual mucking around...

102nd use for a mountain bike

Eungella had to wait yet another day, but what a spectacular spot. Camp was perched right on the 700m high paraglider take-off site overlooking the 70km long valley with the city of Mackay in the distance - the wind just happened to be perfect when we arrived, so a nice little fly up the western slopes of the valley was just the perfect welcome to this little rain forest park and a breath of fresh air after the past few weeks in the dusty and dry Central Queensland.

Our first sighting of Platypus in the wild was an added bonus to the rainforest walks

wild raspberries/youngberries...?

Next stop was Airlie Beach and the now (in)famous girlie week starring touble-makers in no particular order... Belinda, Tracey and Ang.

I have been informed that what happens on girlie weeks, stays on girlie weeks... which is just as well as I have successfully blotted out all but one memory of the week. The one that does still haunt somewhat is coming uncomfortably close to meeting our proverbial maker by way of flying jetski to the head... However fun was had by all... blah blah blah... (phew thank god that week is over) I'll let Ang fill in the details as soon as she recovers from the red wine...

On to Cairns...
After screaming up the coast from the Whitsundays to Cairns via a quick stop at whats lefts of Mission Beach and Dunk Island after Cyclone Yasi had her way...
we arrived at Cairns just in time for Colin to drive us and Anne to the airport and a week's 'break' back home in Sydney encompassing Charl's 50th and some other blurry bits. Before we knew, we were landing back at Cairns airport and ready to hit the road again, but not before spending a great few days with some of Ang's friends from Zim who took us in, in true Zim fashion even though the effects of the red wine the 'girlie week' and Charl's 50th had clearly not yet warn off. Bulawayo Anne proudly and unashamedly ran though a fine collection of party tricks on more than one occasion leaving most of us bewildered and the kids begging to trade in their xboxes for a video camera...

The nearby Atherton Tablelands just west of Cairns was next - spectacular beauty with more lakes than we could visit and coffee and chocolate indulgences that kept us up salivating for days. The Skyrail to Kuranda was memorable (where else do they serve tea 100m above the tree canopy in a cable-car...!).

The largest burger we'd ever seen...enjoyed with some fellow travellers

thats all very nice mate, but we actually need that toilet behind you..

One coffee plantation visit stands out, but not for the coffee... Upon arrival my attention was distracted by a hangar housing a gyrocopter and microlight. After having a fly around with the owner (a semi retired pilot from Tanzania named Jacques...), I'm thinking of reinstating the old gold-coin savings tin again, but unsure how to convince Scott that we should trade in the part built plane on one of these little beauties. I was particularly impressed by the power-off landing he carried out seemingly effortlessly. So stable in the air and nice to fly after having a go at the controls for a while. One more dial to watch though - rotor speed... Thankfully Ang was only mildly excited by her flight in the microlight ('trike' to comply with Aussie terminology) so we don't need two gold-coin tins..

The ants around here have a serious problem with trees..

While out riding we came across a baby honey eater that had somehow got out the nest, so with Ang in rescue mode, making a new nest, we hung around to see who would come back..

Next was a round trip to the Undara Lava Tubes. Sorry Tracey we know you wanted to do this one, but I couldn't cope with you again so soon... Remarkable formations caused by lava flow from ancient volcanos. As the lava cooled from the outside in it created huge tunnels, now underground, as the lava eventually emptied from the tubes. The tubes have been exposed as the roof of some collapsed. Some required you crawl into a hole in the flat terrain only to find it opens up into a tube 500m long and 12m high/wide. Quite spectacular..
Going in..

It's now on up to Cape York for our first real 4wd adventure... We have heard all sorts of horror stories about vehicles being swept away on river crossings... broken this and that... and the $11k to get towed back to Cooktown... 'easy does it' and we should be good..





Proud daddy's and exhausted mommy's all round...

Posted by airbornenemo 01:17 Archived in Australia

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Yes I did hear that your trip up on the cable car up Kuranda was quite exciting...or should i say very enjoyable????? xx

by anne

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