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  • Day51

    Proserpine, Queensland

    July 10, 2015 in Australia ⋅ ⛅ 22 °C

    CAIRNS to PROSERPINE 2/7/15 to 10/7/15

    HW. We’re heading south again towards Innisfail along the section of the north Queensland coast called The Great Green Way. As the name suggests everything is incredibly green and the rainforest scenery is so lush and dense, sometimes growing right up to the edge of the highway. The landscape if fairly mountainous and all of it is covered in rainforest which makes for some great scenery. We spent a couple of days exploring the Innisfail area and visited Mission Beach which was quite busy with holiday-makers. We also found an unusual winery at a place called Murdering Point where they make wines and liqueurs from many different fruits other than grapes. Naturally we sampled most and bought a few!! We also heard about a place called Paronella Park which everyone said was a place not to be missed so we managed to get a camp spot there for a night and drove up into the hills west of Innisfail. Paronella Park got its name from a Spanish chap named Jose Paronella who bought a section of the rainforest in 1930 and set about single-handedly building his “castle” amongst the jungle. Within his landholding there is a large waterfall called Mena Falls. He not only built several buildings but also huge concrete staircases to the lower levels, an avenue of Kauri pine trees, a tunnel through a hill leading to another smaller waterfall and many pathways through the rainforest. He then set about constructing the first Hydro-electric power plant in Australia which he then used to power his “castle” as well as floodlight the Mena Falls, and all of this in the 1930’s. He even had a big ballroom/theatre in his “castle” which had a huge mirror-ball suspended from the ceiling and his own cinema equipment. Unfortunately most of the buildings are now in ruins due to several disastrous cyclones and floods over the years but the people who bought the place about 20 years ago are in the process of slowly restoring parts of the property. The power plant is now working again and we saw the falls and other buildings floodlit at night.

    From there we drove to Tully (where, surprise, surprise it was raining) where we saw the iconic big gumboot and went on a tour of the sugar refinery which was very interesting. Everywhere around this part of Queensland there are huge areas of sugarcane which is all ready for cutting at the moment. Unfortunately the unseasonal wet weather of the past month has delayed the cane cutting and we were lucky that we saw the sugar mill in action.

    Our drive then took us to Cardwell which is a very pretty spot on the coast with views to Hinchinbrook Island. We then continued towards Ingham and drove to a camp spot we’d heard about at a place called Forrest Beach where we set up very close to the beach. Most of the beaches aren’t safe for swimming due to the “stingers” which may be present in the water. There’s absolutely no surf anywhere along the coast as the reef protects the coastline from swells. Here the palms and rainforest grew right down to the sand in places.

    Continuing on we spent a couple of days in the Townsville area. While the city is very “touristy”, it is also a very picturesque place with great views from Castle Hill across the boat harbour and to the many islands off the coast. The water is incredibly blue, the beaches stunning and the green backdrop of the forest make for some great photos. After Townsville we travelled down through Ayr where we looked through an interesting little nature display which was created by a man using more than 60,000 native fauna, butterflies, shells and rocks mostly collected around north Queensland. The landscape now became totally different as this area was very dry because apparently they had no wet season earlier this year. It was mostly flat with low scrub and looked quite desolate after the lush green we had become accustomed to. After a free camp near Bowen (the home of the Big Mango) where I sampled some Mango sorbet, (delicious), we reached Proserpine where we set up camp and drove out to Airlie Beach and Shute Harbour which are both stunningly beautiful places. It’s mostly green again around this area with lots of sugar cane everywhere. Airlie is a real tourist mecca with resorts built up into the hills overlooking the harbour which is full of very expensive boats.

    FW After depositing more of our Top End red dirt at the caravan park in Cairns during a rain shower, we moved on to the August Moon park just out of Innisfail where they had a wash down area which we took full advantage of. We thought the ground around our caravan looked really red but the red just kept coming out of every cavity when I turned a hose on it again.

    About a week and a half before we visited Paronella park they had 170mm of rain overnight and a considerable area of the park was under 1 ½ meters of water. We saw little evidence of the flood.

    A minor statistic of the Tully Sugar Mill is that 100% of the sugar goes overseas.

    Heather mentioned we stayed at Forrest Beach, what she didn’t mention is that the long term holidayers that have been going there for years threatened to slit our throats if we told anyone about it, so please don’t tell a sole.

    At Proserpine we stayed in a caravan park that backed on to a sugar cane plantation with the cane train line about 10 m from our caravan. The cane trains ran till almost midnight. (look closely in the photo behind the caravan for the cane train carriages)
    We seemed to pick the wrong time to take a look at the beaches as almost every time we drove to them it was low tide and trust me you know when its low tide because the water is almost a kilometre away.

    You probably don’t have to be a mountain goat to access the houses and resort accommodation built in the “hills” around Airlie beach but it sure would help. I don’t think a normal human being could actually walk up the roads they are so steep.
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    hi Heather and Frank, really enjoying reading about your journey. You have certainly "sussed out some unusual places". I'm sure you take the good with the bad, but must admit the thought of all clothes , utensils etc covered in red dust sounds difficult to handle. All's well at your home. has been very very cold but some nice sunshine today and blue sky. Makes such a difference. Keep up the good work. Love Linda & Alan

    7/18/15Reply

    Hi Heather & Frank. I've just had a big catch up on your trip. Sounds absolutely amazing & I w

    7/24/15Reply

    You can see I'm not good at this. As I was saying, it makes me want to head up that way immediately. Some of your experiences sound familiar. Loved reading about it. you're both great diarists. Enjoy the rest of your travels & stay safe. Looking forward to seeing you back at exercises Heather. Had lunch for Jan M's b'day today. All good. Hope it's warm where you are. Chilly here.

    7/24/15Reply
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