Natural Thermal Spring
Trip Start May 01, 2010
58Trip End Oct 03, 2010
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Where I stayed
Innot Village Hot Springs
INNOT VILLAGE HOT SPRINGS:
On the map it is quite noticeable how from now on, the area we are heading to has a greater proportion of black dots indicating towns closer together unlike the routes we have travelled thus far. The next stage of 125 kms to the stop at Innot Village Hot Springs, allowed us to leave later than usual at 9.30am after a good breakfast. Along the way, we drove through road works and were surprised to see a traffic light (robot for those from or in Africa!), instead of a person with a stop/go sign. Can’t remember where or when we last saw a traffic light! Just as we went through the road works, a truck spraying water on the road passed us. Blotches of the mud thrown up by our wheels stuck like crazy to the front of our caravan! Once we were back on the tar road we had a bit of drizzle, the first rain we have seen since Uluru. We hoped it would rain a bit harder to wash the mud off the van, but the cloud just hung onto the rain! We drove past the Forty Mile Scrub National Park before reaching the Atherton Tablelands. From there we started travelling through much thicker vegetation and wondered if this was the start of the rain forests - well, we had a bit of drizzle a while ago and that black cloud was still hanging around. There were also quite a few big red termite mounds, Kimberley (northern WA) style! and also some grass trees (black boys) as found in the southern part of Western Australia!
The ipod transmitter stopped working properly due to local interference and alongside the much improved roads were electricity poles with three wires, so maybe we are getting closer to civilization! We also saw our first young hitchhikers who looked like they were from overseas but they were on the other side of the road. They did seem to want to go our way but surely they are not so stupid to stand on the wrong side of the road to hitchhike!
We stopped at Mt Garnet to replenish our pantry a little in the small IGA and with the hope of finding a garnet on the pavement. No garnets on the pavement but street names such as Topaz, Opal, Uranium, Cassiltrite, Garnet, Silver, Mica, Beryl, Ruby, Agate and Jasper Streets - and then Termite Street to cap it off just out of town! The sign as we drove in was “Mt Garnet Gateway to the Tablelands” so we weren’t surprised at the apt names for the Creeks: ‘Dinner Table Creek’ and ‘Little Dinner Creek‘!
We were in for a treat when we booked into Innot Village Hot Springs Caravan Park with six different pools at various temperatures in which to swim. The caravan park facilities are basic with an out of this world old camp kitchen or laundry close to our caravan, painted pillarbox red and canary yellow with a sky blue roof. Inside there are two huge old fashion concrete tubs with no taps and a sort of wood bbq. On closer inspection it might have been where they kept the water hot over a fire for their laundry. The ablutions are fine and a little bit stained from the minerals in the local water which is to be expected, but nothing like the ones at Cue in Western Australia! The new camp kitchen is a bit rough and the place generally seems a little run down with a ‘For Sale’ sign on the outside, but thankfully the pools are clean and great to spend time in. The pools are filled with Thermal Mineral Water from the Hot Springs of Nettle Creek. Not quite like Switzerland’s Leukerbad, I think it is called, where Vera and Freddy go for their holidays, especially as the hot pools aren’t surrounded by snow!
The first afternoon we were well over an hour in the warm outdoor pool chatting to another couple from New South Wales, while the young families were in the big cooler pool with a much smaller warm pool alongside. After starting to get wrinkly, it was time to investigate the other outdoor pools. In the small warm pool I was joined by a little boy who informed me he was a crocodile but a friendly one cause he could stand upright and he is happy! After a little while in that pool chatting to our little crocodile friend, we went to the indoor pools where children are not allowed. There are three pools, a large hot one and two smaller, one very hot and the other cool. The recommended time is maximum ten minutes and a lady advised me that for optimum benefit, one should then quickly move from the hot to the cooler one. Five minutes in the hot pool (the very hot was not an option for me) was sufficient for the first time, then a quick cool off in the small inside cool pool, four lengths in the big cold outdoor pool and finishing off in the outside warm one was great. Looking forward to another day of this.
Just below our caravan park is Nettle Creek fed by the steaming hot spring which flows into the river. The thermal volcanic springs heat up the cool waters of Nettle Creek to 73C. The waters are renowned for their therapeutic qualities so we should arrive at Cook Town for the weekend in top shape. The Nettle Creek is no longer flowing despite the good rains last summer. On our first evening, when what we thought we were hearing was a train, turned out to be a mechanical digger brought in to dig a channel in the river bed from the hot spring to a pool of water where the caravan park has a pump drawing cooler water to irrigate the grass. The water for the rest of the caravan park is pumped up directly from the hot underground water table below.
It reminded us of home hearing the kookaburras but of course their natural home is here in the east and not in WA! Someone told us that they were just introduced to WA because they are the national emblem so the powers that be at the time, decided that kookaburras therefore should be all over Australia!
In a day old ‘Cairns Post’ found in the laundry, we noticed an interesting article about the Hot Springs here at Innot. It goes on to say that “Scientists will investigate hot springs on the Tableland for a potentially cheap source of alternative energy. The underground water at Innot Hot Springs, 166 km west of Cairns, has a temperature that can reach up to 78C. The springs, a popular tourist attraction, are well known for their healing qualities. Researchers from the Queensland Geothermal Energy Centre of Excellence at the University of Queensland believe the springs may also be one of the best sources of potential geothermal energy in the state. Geothermal energy comes from hot rock formations beneath the earth. The heat from the rocks can be used to make power and the Innot Hot Springs is one of very few thermal springs in Australia”.
We had a fair bit of rain in the night and dew in the morning and then blue skies the rest of the day. The cool air first thing in the morning made the steam from the Hot Springs clearly visible from our caravan.
After a hearty breakfast, we went for a walk over Nettle Creek and then up the main road from where we had seen the vehicles descending to the river crossing. We had been hearing the heavy trucks operating their compression brakes and now after increasing our heart rate by walking up the steep hill, we realized the reason! We are definitely on the Tropical Queensland Tableland - there are some huge mango trees here, instead of a town. All we saw was one house, a telephone exchange, a phone booth, a heavy machinery hire place, a hotel and of course the caravan park. Maybe Innot Hot Springs Village has two more buildings than Auski Village in WA! After so much exercise seeing the sights of town, we definitely needed another relaxing swim in the hot pools. After wearing thongs (slops) in the outback for seven weeks, it is lovely to have white feet again and no longer dirt stained ones!
We had to have a bit of excitement to end our stay at Innot! Late afternoon, the usual routine in the pools was going well. First about an hour in the big outside warm pool hearing about the early days in the area from some Queenslanders when they used to dredge for tin and find garnets etc in the waste. Then the inside hot pools where there is a clock and a sign recommending ten minutes only. Watching the clock reminded me of my friends back home supervising Curtin exams. From there to the outside cool pool where I had planned to increase to eight laps this time. I had only managed three when someone saw a snake slithering in the shallow end and called to me to get out. Great - how does one get out the deep end without steps!
Next thing someone yanked me out and it was unbelievable how fast the python swam to the deep end. Mike had had enough pool time for the day so when I rushed back to fetch the camera and showed him the photo of the snake, the teasing began. Ok, so it wasn’t big or venomous, but apparently a bite can still hurt and I don’t like being bitten by anything. Didn’t though tell you yet about the huge ants in the men’s ablutions - bigger than any WA Bull ant or African Matabele ant but only in the dead of night, which made a visit to the dunny in the night a bit daunting!
Talk about ol’ mother hubbard and her bare cupboards - ours are getting that way but still enough remains for our last night in the bush. Atherton should be a big enough metropolis to restock tomorrow. It will be the first town with a good size supermarket since we left Cloncurry two weeks ago. Next to our caravan was a tree with fruit that looked like custard applies, but we preferred to watch the rainbow lorikeets enjoying the fruit than to deprive them of their feast. So our last dinner in the outback before hitting the big town of Atherton consisted of a can of sauerkraut and a can of tiny tatters tossed in fried onions, rasher of bacon and a chopped boneless chicken thigh served with Thomy Senf (mustard).