Where are we now?

Where are we now?
Where are we now? Tahmoor, NSW. Updated 7th December 2011

Friday, October 7, 2011

Day 243. Mt Surprise to Lake Tinaroo

A rare encounter...

We were up early this morning, as we had to make it to our morning tour of the 'Undara Lava Tubes', which were approximately 100kms away.

As we started our pack-up, I couldn't help but notice that my rear right tyre was completely flat again - so much so that it was sitting on the rim! Bugger! I was hoping I had fixed the problem yesterday. There was nothing to do but take it off and put on the spare tyre. (This is always the time you start to wonder if your spare is OK and will hold up to the job). That done, and the pack-up continued.

Before we left the campground we went and said goodbye to our new friends; Carl, Angela, Cameron and Hayden. These guys are Cairns locals, so we picked their brains on what to see and where to go while in Cairns. They were a great help, and thanks guys for all the information you provided us. Scarlett will miss playing with Cameron and Hayden, as they all seemed to have a great time exploring together.

Frilled-Necked Lizard
We were soon on the road and heading east towards the Undara Lava Tubes. On the way back into town, we saw our first Frill-Necked Lizard basking in the sun on the middle of the road. We pulled over and went to have a look, as these guys aren't as numerous as they once were due to the Cane Toad plague up here in the north of Australia. It stayed put and posed for photo's, before I thought I'd be brave enough to see if I could get it to open up it's frills for Scarlett to see. I went over and touched its tail, hoping it would turn around and 'open up', but instead it took off at a hundred miles an hour. Bec and Scarlett laughed at the way it ran on its back legs, with its front legs high in the air. It was a funny site indeed!

Ready... Steady... Go!
As we went through the township of Mt Surprise, we picked up mobile phone service again, and both Bec and my phones were going crazy with incoming messages and missed phone calls. Our mates Jo, Michelle, Yvonne and Justin are all at Bathurst experiencing the 'Great Race' this weekend, and they were having an awesome time and couldn't wait to rub it in. (I hope you guys have a great time, and we can't wait to join you again next year). Go Holden! Bec also had a phone call from her dad, who is also up at 'The Mountain' working as a Fire Marshall at the race, and he just wanted to touch base to see how Scarlett was going. It was great to hear from our friends and family, and we can't wait to get home and see you all again!

Scarlett listening to the tour guide at Undara Lava Tubes

We arrived at the Undara Lava Tubes a little early, so we had a look around and enjoyed a complimentary hot cup of tea. We were soon on the tour bus heading to our first cave - "Road Cave", where we got to experience the first of three Lava Tubes that we were to visit today. The 'tubes' themselves are truly a unique experience, and Scarlett loved the idea that these were made by volcanoes and lava back when Dinosaurs walked the Earth.

The caves were amazing; and we were in for a rare treat. The caves are normally dry, but due to the unusual high rain fall over the last three years, they were either wet, or in-flood. National Parks and Wildlife Services control access to the caves, and have installed raised walkways throughout the cave system to protect them from any damage that might be caused from the large amount of visitors every year. This however didn't make access to some of the caves any easier, as the water level is still so high that we weren't able to access the back of one of the caves in particular where a colony of micro-bats live. We were lucky enough to see one micro-bat flying around one cave, but that was the only animal life we encountered in the caves themselves. Still, Scarlett was impressed and enjoyed the experience immensely!

Road Cave

Flooded Lava Tube

Scarlett leading the way during the tour

The Arch Complex
After the tour finished, Bec cooked up some delicious toasted cheese sandwiches for lunch and then we were off again.

Next stop was Millstream Falls; which holds the record as Australia's widest waterfall. While enjoying the scenery, we spotted a family of Blue-winged Kookaburra's that looked like they had chicks in a tree hollow near by. Scarlett was most impressed, as she had just bought a soft toy of the Blue-winged Kookaburra back at Undara.

Millstream Falls - Australia's widest waterfall

Soon after leaving the falls, we were climbing the Great Dividing Range and driving through dense rainforest's. What a contrast, as earlier today we were in dry flat woodlands on dusty dirt roads surrounded by Brahman cattle. This afternoon we were weaving up and down winding roads and through thick lush rainforest's in North Eastern QLD. Wow!

There were signs indicating that Tree Kangaroos and Cassowaries inhabit the area, and that caution should be taken when driving. Jokingly I said to Bec "Look up in the tree's, and see if you can spot a Tree Kangaroo". "Yeah right" was the only reply I got, as we continued driving along the skinny overgrown roads weaving our way through the mountains.

Lumholtz's Tree Kangaroo
5 minutes later Bec yells out: "There's a Tree Kangaroo! I just saw a Tree Kangaroo!" She was adamant in what she had just seen, and wanted us to stop, but there was nowhere to pull over or turn around. Scarlett didn't believe what Bec had seen and wanted her to 'prove it', so a short distance up the road I found a spot to do a U-turn. I wasn't sure what to believe, as I know Bec has an uncanny eye for spotting wildlife - hence her nickname 'Hawke Eye'; so I gave her the benefit of the doubt and tried to find somewhere to pull over near the area she thought she saw this rare and endangered marsupial.

No sooner had we found a spot to pull over, Bec and Scarlett were out of the car and heading towards the tree that Bec thought she saw her 'Tree Kangaroo' in. Well blow me down! Up there in the tree right where Bec said it was, was a Lumholtz's Tree Kangaroo. It sat there for a short while watching us, allowing Bec to get some photo's and video footage, before disappearing deep into the rainforest.

Crikey! We were all gobsmacked with what we had just encountered! Tree Kangaroos are as rare as hens teeth, so for Bec to spot one as we drove along the road is something that we will probably never experience again! Even the locals might wait years to see there first one - if they ever get to see one at all! If I return from this trip travelling Australia and have learnt only one thing, that would be to never ever dismiss anything Bec says she has seen without investigating first. Go Hawke Eye!

We soon arrived in the town of Atherton, where we got some basic supplies and indulged in an early dinner of McDonalds - the first we have encountered since leaving Sydney weeks ago. As we stepped inside, Scarlett was eagerly rubbing her hands together ready to enjoy her 'Happy Meal' and see what 'Smurf' toy ' she would find inside.

It was then off to Lake Tinaroo, as it came highly recommended by Carl and Angela (O'Briens Creek Campground). We arrived just before sunset, and quickly set up camp. Scarlett was straight off to the 'jumping pillow' to play with a group of girls that were up there, while Bec and I got the van unpacked ready for a couple of nights here. Bec has found this spot so that she can leave me here to watch the V8's on at Bathurst this weekend, while she and Scarlett go exploring in the Atherton tablelands.

Today was a long day spent on the road, and we were all very tired by the time we finally hit the sack. But saying that, it was a day full of new experiences and rare encounters. Bring it on!

1 comment:

  1. Wow! Are you sure this was all just one day??!! So jealous ... we'd LOOOOVE to be back on the tablelands! Enjoy!!