The Atherton Tableland

Our last overnight stop was at Fletchers Creek, a great little free camping area near the river. We find these free camping places from a book called Camps Australia. It was quite expensive to buy but it’s now paid for itself many times over. Facilities on these places are often limited but in this case there are showers and toilets.

We arrived at Ravenshoe in the Atherton Tableland just after lunch some 3500 kms from Adelaide. We will go slowly through the tablelands heading north and end up in Cooktown. As usual we headed first to an excellent tourist information centre to pick up the info we need for the next few days. After speaking to a very friendly volunteer at the centre we set off on a 25km drive to Millaa Millaa. The tablelands are a high area up behind Cairns and the weather is pleasantly cooler than the coast. The countryside is a mixture of the Derbyshire Peak District with sun and the Swiss Alps. The agriculture is quite lush with mainly dairy farming but also as it is quite tropical there are coffee plantations and tropical fruits are grown. We visited the falls at Millaa Millaa which are in a lovely tropical setting and then we camped for the night at the beautiful Eacham Lake where we saw lots of colourful parrots flying about in the trees.

The next day we did a 3km circular walk around the lake in the rainforest. We then drove to visit a famous fig tree called the Curtain Fig. It’s a bit like a prop from the Lord of the Rings. This 500 year old strangler fig has airal roots that hand down to create a feathery curtain. We then drove on to Lake Tinaroo – attractive but too many watersports and expensive waterside properties for us. After lunch we drove to Herberton. This is one of the highest towns in the Atherton Tableland and there they have an historic village with a whole street re-created in perfect detail including shops, school, blacksmiths etc.

We were looking for an overnight stop and came across a camping ground near a war memorial on the main road where they ask for a gold coin donation. Any money raised goes to maintaining the memorial. One of the things we really enjoy on our travels is the people we meet particularly on the free camping areas. This was no exeption – there were already a few backpackers tents and campervans about and then a large coach converted to a motorhome pulled in with slogans all over it about God and being born again etc. We spent an interesting couple of hours being ‘converted’ but when he realised it wasn’t working he said ‘Oh well. It was worth a punt’. Janet, a lady in her mid sixties camped in a tent next to us and told us most of her life history and that she always travels on her own. You really couldn’t make some of these stories up.

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