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  • Day23

    Mareeba, Queensland

    June 12, 2015 in Australia ⋅ ⛅ 21 °C

    CHARTERS TOWERS to MAREEBA 8/06/15 – 12/06/15

    HW. On the move again we headed for Undara Volcanic National Park which is about 380 km North of Charters Towers. This road into the National Park was sealed and we arrived late afternoon at the van park which was in a lovely bush setting. That evening we listened around the campfire to a ranger talk about the termite mounds which abound in the area. Next morning we had booked to go on a tour of the lava tubes. In this area there are several Lava Tube systems, one which stretches 160km is the world’s longest lava flow from a single volcano. Our guide took us into a couple of sections of a tube which is like a big tunnel through the basalt (lava) rock. It was formed as the lava flowed over the landscape millions of years ago and the surface cooled and became rock while beneath the lava continued to flow slowly, finally draining out and leaving the tunnel empty. The ceiling of the tunnel we were in was 30 – 40 metres above us in places. Really awesome! During the afternoon we did another bushwalk to a nearby lookout which gave views over the mostly flat, bushy landscape where other extinct volcanoes could be seen here and there in the distance. We had another evening by the campfire where a different ranger played guitar and sang a few songs.

    On our way out of Undara next morning we took a small detour to a spot where there is a walking trail to the top of another extinct volcano and walked around the rim. The crater is all filled with vegetation now but once again we had good views over the surrounding countryside. We continued our drive North and stopped at a free-camp near the town of Ravenshoe (pronounced Ravens-hoe we learned). After unhitching we drove a few kms up the road to have a look at Millstream Falls which are reputed to be the widest single drop falls in Australia. There was plenty of water running over them despite it being the dry season at the moment up here. Very pretty spot.

    The weather up this way has been pretty mild for the past week or so with most days around 24C and overnight about 15C (no heater required in the van now). The rain started at the free-camp and has continued on and off while we have moved on to Mareeba which is just past Atherton. We visited the centre of both towns and stocked up on groceries etc. in readiness for our Cape trek and also had a look around the local area which has pockets of rainforest amongst the farming land. One small rainforest near Atherton has a famous curtain fig tree (strangler fig) which is huge.

    FW. The road from Charters Towers to the Savannah Way narrows to 1 lane wide so when you meet oncoming traffic both cars have to take to the verges and when it’s a road train you pull over and stop. The signs tell you they do not move off the bitumen.
    The day before we reached Ravenshoe there was a terrible accident where a car careered into a shop and hit a gas cylinder which exploded, badly injuring a number of people. When we drove in the shop was all boarded up.
    Ravenshoe boasts the highest bar in Queensland. Ravenshoe to Atherton was a tricky drive due to the rain (yes real unseasonal rain) and hilly winding roads.
    Tomorrow we begin the assault on Cape York’s Peninsular Development dirt roads.
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