Yungaburra...A Slice of Paradise
Trip Start Apr 05, 2011
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Continuing on after a stroll around the historic buildings we stopped for lunch at the Croydon General Store in… you guessed it, Croydon. This store has been continually trading since 1894 and still retains many period features along with the service to match!
The route took us along the Gulf Developmental Road or part of the Savannah Way and like the Matilda Highway the road would often narrow to just a single strip of bitumen down the centre of the road so once again we found ourselves having to pull off the road from time to time to let a road train through
In no time we had arrived at Mount Surprise, our base for the next couple of nights as we explored the Undara National Park. Mount Surprise’s population is said to be sixty five, however the publican says she can only count forty nine in a twenty mile radius…. nine of them attend the local state school and the other forty aren’t drinkers, not so good when you own the pub!
Undara National Park is home to ancient lava tubes, set on a privately owned cattle station it was once again funny to be driving through a national park with cattle meandering across and alongside the road. We did a pleasant walk along the rim of a volcano drinking in the sweeping views which the height of the rim afforded us across the surrounding landscape.
Whilst we like to explore places for ourselves, the only access to the lava tubes is via an organised tour and so we reluctantly parted with the cash and boarded the bus. We were driven through bushland a short distance to the section of the lava tubes which have been made accessible.
The lava tubes were in many ways visually similar to caves, yet in hearing about their history and examining the texture of their walls the differences become apparent
We left Mount Surprise and the flat harsh bush behind us as we turned north onto the Kennedy Highway. The drive took us through lush rolling green hills and dales, the hills were so perfect they looked to have been mowed, such a contrast to the countryside we had traversed over the past months.
We stopped in the delightful town of Ravenshoe for lunch and a stroll along its charming main street before dropping in for a quick chat with a friend we had met at the Barra, Beef and Bulldust Expo. Whilst we were tempted to stay a night and explore further we knew we had a lot to see and do over the coming days and so we continued on to Yungaburra.
At Karumba Tracy had been kind enough to provide us with a map of the Atherton Tablelands and highlighted some must do’s, including staying at a park right on the banks of Lake Tinaroo near Yungaburra
Whilst we felt we had left a section of our hearts stretched across the top of Australia, we were now actually getting excited about exploring far north Queensland. We could not have had a bigger contrast from our last stop at Mount Surprise and Yungaburra (FNQ equivalent of Daylesford in Victoria). Listed by the National Trust of Queensland, Yungaburra Village is reminiscent of a bygone era with character filled old buildings just oozing charm. Dominating the main street is the old Lake Eacham Hotel, a grand old lady who stands proud; the internal rooms mostly in original form offer a glimpse into her history... We went for a walk around town and couldn’t believe how friendly everyone was, all saying hello and some taking the time to engage us in conversation. We strolled down to Petersons Creek in search of a Platypus and were not disappointed, there was one directly below the bridge content to continue on with his business under our gaze. We were thrilled!
Having been visually overloaded through the splendor of our days drive we were keen to head back to our camp to rest our eyes. Sitting on our 'patio’ looking over the open park in front of us, green lawn rolled down into Lake Tinaroo, green hills rose from the lake on the opposite bank with mountains in the distance and a sky awash with bulbous clouds
As cute little Purple Swamphens foraged on the lawn in front of us we noticed Stan and Bec (who we had met in Karumba) as they were about to drive past. It was lovely to catch up again and they invited us to join them out on their boat for a spot of fishing the following afternoon. How could we refuse such a generous offer?!
Our first full day on the tablelands was jam packed… We began the day kayaking around Lake Eacham, checking out the turtles and stunning rainforest as we did so. Whilst reloading the kayaks we were joined by a male Australian Bush Turkey, this being our first encounter we were taken by his yellow wattle, red marking and fan tail. Continuing on to another crater lake; Lake Barrine, we stopped at the Tea House for their award winning Devonshire Tea whilst admiring the ducks paddling on the lake below.
Next we were off for a gorgeous drive around Lake Tinaroo. Our first stop was the Cathedral Fig Tree, with a girth of 44 meters this tree is huge, its branches are adorned with large ferns which have taken up residence, it is hard to imagine how old this tree must be, just imagine the stories it could tell us if only it could talk
The gravel road continued on through rainforest and pine forests meandering around and over some ranges. The camping areas around the lake were starting to fill with keen fishermen for the Barra Bash which was taking place over the weekend. The drive was pretty, diverse and interesting as it took in so many different landscapes.
We joined Stan and Bec on their boat in the late afternoon and headed down Peterson Creek to do some fishing. There were a couple of Dingo pups on the bank nibbling away at a washed up Barramundi, they were so cute! Whilst we were catching nothing Bec kept reeling in catfish… a slow learner (the fish not Bec); we think it was the same fish a couple of times!
We moved around to another area along the Barron River, here the shoreline was awash with Whistling Ducks and the fish were just as stubborn as Peterson Creek. One last try… around at Honeymoon Cove once again Bec was reeling them in as quickly as she baited up yet Stan, Rod and I caught nothing!
Just as we were about to pack up and head off I spotted a Tree Kangaroo
And so our days at Yungaburra became filled with a combination of sightseeing and boating. It was the weekend of the annual Barra Bash, a popular fishing competition on Lake Tinaroo and the Klaproths were so kind to make us part of their family for the weekend.
We spent our second day doing a scenic drive and taking in the majestic waterfalls which abound in this area. Our first stop was at the Mount Hypipamee National Park to view Dinner Falls and the Hypipamee Crater. The Crater was stunning with its sheer grey rock walls dropping dramatically down into the vivid green Duck Weed covered pool below. Continuing on we stopped at the spectacular Millaa Millaa Lookout where we stood atop the hill drinking in the sweeping views over the tableland. With the vibrant green pastures undulating for as far as the eye could see, it was hard to drag ourselves away.
Just out of the Millaa Millaa township we turned onto a gorgeous little loop road which took us to three stunning waterfalls, all distinctly different. Millaa Millaa, Zillie and Ellinjaa, we enjoyed our walks to each of them and only wished like at Litchfield we could jump in and go for a swim!
Making our way back to Yungaburra we stopped off to admire the Malanda Falls and were thrilled to see a male Peacock resting by the edge of the water, we can just never tire of their impressive coat of feathers. Our last stop of this drive was at the Curtain Fig Tree, yet another massive Fig Tree adorned with ferns and a curtain of roots almost like a veil around its trunk dropping from great heights, it is an impressive sight.
We joined Stan, Bec and their lovely friends Les and Lorraine for another evening on board their boat. We must mention at this point that this boat is no tinnie… It is a luxurious pontoon style boat which operates skippered charters out on Lake Tinaroo for cruises catering for fishing, sightseeing, wildlife spotting or simply a barbeque or party. The boat is decked out with comfy big lounges and ample space to move around. So whilst the lake was filling up with keen fishermen in their kayaks and tinnies for the Barra Bash, here we were in ultimate comfort and style
So here we were caught up in the Barra Bash excitement, back onboard at four the next morning… The lovely Jodie had arrived from Cairns and in no time we were anchored over at Stan’s favourite hot spot. The rods were put to work off the back of the boat and it wasn’t long before we heard that distinctive gulp as a barra took the bait. As excitement gripped all onboard Jodes expertly reeled in a ninety centimeter Barramundi, it was amazing to watch and such a thrill to be there.
Our heart beats had just slowed back to normal when we heard another gulp…. Bec’s turn, another beauty at seventy centimeters, the atmosphere was electric and no one could wipe the smiles from their faces. Having just recovered from that there was another bite, this time it was massive and it was the one that got away! As Stan spoiled us once again with a delicious breakfast we were taken with the magnificent sight of the sun rising over the lake and once again felt so very humbled by the generosity of our adopted family.
With so little time and so much to see we took a quick trip out to Granite Gorge and delighted in feeding the Mareeba Wallabies, especially one which had a very young joey in her pouch, so young in fact it barely even had any hair as yet. We took a walk around the area scrambling over large granite boulders before heading back to Lake Tinaroo and back out on the boat
Tonight it was Stan, Bec, Jodie and Tracy with her friends, Todd, David and Amanda. Todd, Amanda and Tracy were trying their luck fishing from the kayaks whilst we had lines from the boat. Unfortunately the biggest action we had was watching the magnificent sunset and so we moved on and around to the Point.
Whilst this outing did not bring the fishing results everyone had hoped for Tracy cooked up a storm and we were once again spoiled with a lovely meal, great company and entertaining conversation. It was after ten thirty when we drew anchor and headed for shore, all exhausted from the early start but having had a thoroughly enjoyable time.
The final day of the Barra Bash had arrived and we were bound for the Lake Tinaroo Township to experience the final weigh in and keenly await the announcement of the winner. Les and Lorraine whom we had met on the boat a couple of nights prior have a Barramundi Hatchery and had been kind enough to take the time to show us around, and they were at the lake today to release over six hundred fingerlings back into the lake. We arrived just in time to watch as children filled buckets with the little Barramundi and released them into the dam
We joined our new family as the final fish were weighed in and the last calculations were made. The winning Barramundi had been over 1.3 metres and weighed just under 30 kilos. This fish was massive!
We were so comfortable where we were staying that we decided to visit Cairns the following day from there and so we took the stunning drive over the range and spent the day exploring before completing the loop by driving back through Kuranda. We walked down to Barron Falls and admired the water cascading down the massive granite rock faces, this truly is one of the most beautiful and dramatic of waterfalls even at the end of the dry it does not disappoint.
Back at Yungaburra we spent our last night having dinner with the family… Stan, Bec and Tracy (unfortunately Jodes had gone back to Cairns). We had such an enjoyable night of banter and we just can’t thank them all enough for making us feel so welcome and sharing one of their favourite weekends of the year with us. It was such a privilege and a highlight for us.
Highlights of Yungaburra:
- The generous hospitality of the Klaproths
- The privilege of Barra Bashing on the most comfortable cruise boat
- The passion and excitement of watching Barramundi being reeled in
- Wildlife – Tree Kangaroo, Platypus and Dingo pups
- Breathtaking scenery of the Tablelands
- We can highly recommend Lake Tinaroo Cruises if ever you find yourselves in the area!