Killaloe to Mission Beach
Sitting on the veranda eating breakfast Mark and I are viciously attacked by black flies. It does sound rather dramatic but they bite and one actually draws blood from Mark’s toe. Wonderful settings are sometimes accompanied by very annoying pests.
The car is packed and we set off south to Mission beach. Instead of driving the coast road we turn inland to drive through the Atherton Tablelands. This fertile area is slightly cooler than the coast as it climbs to Queensland’s highest mountains.
On leaving Mossman the roads start to climb and we stop at a viewpoint to look out over the coastal area we have just left. The road up from the coast, through Mowbray National Park was only tarmacked in 1983, before that it was just a dirt track. We come across another viewpoint about 500m further along the road and agree to only pull over if we think it maybe something really different to look at, otherwise it will take us all day and night to travel the 150km to Mission Beach.
The rainforest begins to thin out and the landscape becomes more English with green hills and patchwork fields. This area is full of agriculture; fruit, vegetables, bananas, vines and cattle. The first substantial settlement we reach is Mount Malloy, a historic mining and timber town. I comment that it seems a strange place for people to settle, miles away from anywhere, just a one street town.
At the side of the road there are strange mounds which look like clay. Mark thinks they are termite mounds and pulls over to have a closer look. A campervan pulls up behind and a young Aussie gets out, ‘you need help?’ he asks. We explain that we have stopped to look at the mounds. ‘oh, thet're just rocks’ he states, without any interest. We thank him for stopping and offering help and he drives off. We look at the mounds more closely and they are indeed termite mounds. We see these mounds for miles even where there has been bush fires and the trees are burnt.
We pull up in Mareeba for a break, the centre of Australia’s once flourishing tobacco-growing industry. The town like most in this area is based around one long street of mostly flat-roofed buildings and the usual Anzac memorial. Many of the buildings have signage which recalls this past history but it is now more famous for fruit, coffee and distilleries, including the Golden Drop Mango Winery. The town hosts one of Australia’s largest rodeos every June and there is evidence of this in the shops selling leather saddles.
Turning off highway 1 we make our way to view the famous 500-year-old Curtain Fig Tree. The size of this tree is unbelievable but it is the gigantic aerial roots that hang down to create a curtain which are amazing. We have seen lots of these trees but none have come anywhere near the size of this one.
Continuing on we reach Yungaburra, where we spend time at the platypus-viewing platform on Peterson Creek. Unfortunately, it is the wrong time of day to see platypus, however we read all the information provided (well I do).
The little town of Yungaburra is chocolate-box pretty. The streets are tree-lined and many of the buildings are heritage listed. The Yungaburra Hotel built in 1910 is a welcoming sight on the corner of the main street. As we walk around there is an overwhelming sound of birds and on looking upwards, we see beautifully coloured parrots nesting and then flying from tree to tree. Mark points out one of the trees which is dressed in a crocheted bikini.
Next stop is rainforest-shrouded Malanda Falls National Park. The falls here have been utilised for swimming for millennia, but infrastructure was added to make a swimming pool in the early 1900’s. It is a lovely, peaceful and shaded area but I wouldn’t fancy a dip – a bit too rustic for my liking.
We start to descend towards the coast and as we look towards the mountains, we can see smoke. Pulling up to have a look we can see that it is a huge fire, another bush fire, such a shame.
Arriving in Innisfail we turn south and join the Bruce Highway, heading for the Coral Sea and Mission Beach. We are staying at South Mission Beach 10km south of Mission in an apartment. We pass a string of laid-back seaside villages with gorgeous houses lining the coast.
I feel unwell (cold sores and sore throat) and so once settled I have a lie down whilst Mark and Marcus go out to explore. They arrive back full of excitement as they have seen one of the illusive cassowaries. This flightless, brightly coloured, 5-foot tall aggressive bird is an endangered species and rarely seen. I feel that I’ve really missed out but I’m so pleased they have seen it. Another experience to tick off their list.