Sunday, July 24, 2016

Croydon, Queensland

Croydon is now a small township in the middle of the base of the Gulf of Carpentaria but in its heyday it was the fourth largest town in Queensland and was a bustling town surrounded by gold hysteria. These days it is a town like so many other outback towns trying to survive the drought and modern times. But fortunately a number of heritage buildings have been kept and this gives travellers a glimpse of what Croydon was like in the 1800's.

The Club Hotel, built in 1887 is now the last of 36 hotels that were here in the gold rush days. 

The Croydon General Store is the longest continually running store in Queensland and also claims to be the oldest store in Australia. It was built in 1887 and now houses a lot of local memorabilia and artifices as well as groceries, tyres, fuel and souvenirs. 

The Croydon Court House was needed after the initial gold strike in 1885. The court house played an important role in the life of early Croydon. This is where disputes over mining claims were heard. Today it has been set up so visitors can sit in the gallery and listen to a recreation of poor Betty getting two months for swearing and she left for goal with a Chinese boss who also got two months for supplying his workers with opium. 

The Iguana Consols Mining Museum is an area containing various mining equipment now rusting but still very impressive. There is also the shell of the original Bing Chew family home. I love the way they built the low veranda to keep the house cooler. 

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Mt Surprise and Undara Lava Tubes

Mt Surprise is a tiny community of around 65 people situated on the Savannah Way, which is the road that runs from Cairns on the east coast of Australia to Broome on the west coast. This part of the world is most famous for the Undara Lava Tubes. I have wanted to visit the tubes since I visited the  Atherton Tablelands five years ago, but I didn't have enough time to drive here. But I am finally here and today was my time to venture out. The half day tour started by heading into the Undara Volcanic National Park and our 2.5 kilometre walk up and around the rim of Kalkani Crater. The walk was a bit steep but the group took it nice and slowly stopping along the way to learn about the surrounds such as the three other volcanoes in the area. Kalkani Crater was created some 200,000 to 400,000 years ago.

The view was the crater rim was pretty spectacular
After returning to the base and having some refreshments it was back in the bus to head to the Wind Tunnel Complex, which is a system of intertwining lava tubes. Here we were to explore the three different sections of the Undara Lava Tubes. Here we made our decent down some rocky terrain, luckily we had a rope to hold onto. This first chamber was the smaller with a height of around eight metres.

The moss on the rocks looked amazing but was a bit slippery to walk on
After a short walk through the bush we came to the larger tube which consisted of two tunnels and had a height of around eleven metres. Once again it was a bit of a climb both in and out with the help of the rope. I was pretty pleased, I handled the rocks a lot better than I thought I would. Thank goodness it's only my right arm that won't work properly and my legs are still in good working order. There was one guy who had had previously had two knee reconstructions and he struggled a bit.

Heading down into our first lava tube
The ceilings and walls in parts of the tubes were some pretty amazing designs and colours. We were all given torches to help us look around the tubes as they were pretty dark when we moved away from the rocky opening.

Inside the larger lava tube was amazing

Without our torches we would never have seen the spectacular colours

Plus we would have fell over as parts of the floor were a bit bumpy

Looking towards our exit route

Looking back into the tube as I climbed out
This is definitely one location I would recommend someone visit. I think the only other location lava tubes such as these can be visited are in Hawaii. Tomorrow is going to be a lazy day before we head further west on Saturday.


Well our visit to the beautiful Atherton Tablelands ends tomorrow. We have stayed at Ravenshoe Railway grounds for almost a week and have loved it, even though it has rained most of the time. This time of the year is normally the dry season up in these parts but for some reason Mother Nature has put the wet on for all of us. Ravenshoe is claimed to be the highest town in Queensland and the Ravenshoe Hotel claims to be the Highest Pub in Queensland but while in Herberton the other day a local said that their pub was the highest. Mmmm a bit of country town rivalry it seems.

Ravenshoe Hotel 
Just west of Ravenshoe are the Millstream Falls which are said to be the widest falls in Australia. I would say that measurement would be when the falls are flowing in the wet season during summer.
Millstream Falls
 Today we drove some 35km to Innot Hot Springs. You can soak in the creek for free, but I have tried that and the water was so hot I couldn't even put my toe into it. So today we decided to pay the $10 entry fee to the caravan park and indulge in the 6 pools. Although I only got into five as one felt just like the creek did - hot! As I am still having some very annoying issues with my frozen shoulder it was nice to have a soak in the hot mineral water.

This pool was about 28c

So relaxing

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Historic Village Herberton

This amazing historic village owes it's existence firstly to Herberton's pioneers  and then also to the people who have collected old buildings, hundreds of artefacts from the past, many many old cars tractors, bottles, records and so much more.

Back to school in the 1800's, early 1900's
I have been to historic villages before, such as Sovereign Hill in Ballarat but this one has literally thousands upon thousands of pieces of history collected from the area. I was also totally amazed in the organization of everything and how clean everything was.

Day's Garage held so many beautiful vehicles

A funeral wagon

This toy store had so many amazing toys
 All the buildings, except Tin Pannikin Pub dates from Herberton's foundation years in the 1880's and almost all the buildings are as they were originally constructed.

Everything was so clean

The products in the pharmacy were mind blowing

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Paronella Park, Mena Creek

This was my second visit to Paronella Park and I know I will be back here again in the future. To anyone who hasn't visited Paronella Park it is hard to describe its amazingness.

Lovers Lane
Paronella Park was the dream of Jose' Paronella way back in the early 1900's when he arrived in Queensland from Catalonia in Northern Spain. He chose this 13 acres in this special part of Australia to create his castle, picnic areas beside Mena Creek, tennis courts, tunnels and bridges. Then he wrapped it all up in some 7000 tropical plants and trees.

To the right of the waterfall is the Hydro Electric plant Jose built
As well of this amazing place Jose's story is extremely interesting as well, although it is way to long to tell here. If you are interested I have included a link so you can read Jose' Paronella's story.

Part of the beauty is the moss and plants creeping over the structures
 Another one of Jose's incredible feats was his hydro electric plant. He created Queensland's first hydro electric plant in 1933 to power the 13 acre park, and the castle grounds were ready to welcome the public in 1935. After many years, floods and cyclones the hydro stopped working but in 2009 the refurbishment of the original hydro turbine once again saw power to the park. The hydro also supplies power to the small settlement on Mena Creek.
The night time view of the castle is amazing
As I have mentioned Paronella Park has been through many floods and cyclones but in 1993 when the current owners Mark and Judy took over they discovered the almost lost park and envisaged reviving Jose's dream, which I am happy to say they have done.
The lights on the waterfall at night is spectacular
This is an amazing place to visit and I urge everyone to put this on your bucket list. The entry per adult is $44 but that includes a day tour, a night tour and the availability to come back for a free visit within the following two years.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Millaa Millaa Waterfall Circuit.

Millaa Millaa referred to as the "Village in the Mist" is a delightful little village surrounded by some of the most amazing scenery I have ever seen. With all the rolling hills and deep valleys it is no surprise  this area has quite a few waterfalls. Just out of Millaa Millaa we took a left turn to start our short adventure on the Waterfall Curcuit. After an easy walk from the car park the first waterfall we visited was Millaa Millaa Falls which are just over 18 metres high and are quite a spectacle to see.

Millaa Millaa Falls
Then it was back into the car for a short drive through the amazing green rolling hills to Zillie Falls. The walkway took us to the top of these falls and there was a rough track to walk to the base of them but we decided against it. Zillie Falls were not as high as Millaa Millaa Falls but had a lot more rocks at the base that the water thundered down to.
The amazing views over this lush countryside

Zillie Falls
Then it was off to the third and last waterfall on this circuit, Ellinjaa Falls. There was quite a bit of a walk through the rainforest down to the base of the falls. But it certainly a pretty view once I got there.

Ellinjaa Falls
 Next it was onto Mount Hypipamee Crater. After an easy walk we reached this spectacular crater. I certainly didn't expect to see a drop of some 58 metres to the water surface. It is estimated that the waters depth is then something like 73 metres deep.
Mount Hypipamee Crater
Shane decided to take the same track back to the car and I took the more rugged track to have a look at Dinner Falls. Oh my goodness what a walk it was up and down until I reached the falls which consisted of about four different falls. The walk really set my asthma off but it was worth the walk.
One of the falls at Dinner Falls
Our next morning was our last in beautiful Yungaburra and seeing we were on the lake I really wanted to try and get some sunrise photos. As soon as I ventured out of our camper Myrtle I was faced with a literal wall of fog. It was a very eerie feeling standing alone on the waters edge without being able to see anything. As the sun slowly started to rise I was able to get a couple of shots I am very happy with.
I was confronted by a wall of fog

When the sun rose her head I was pretty impressed

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

How Wang Temple, Atherton

Hou Wang Miau is an authentic Chinese Temple in Artherton and was constructed back in 1903. The temple's simple exterior, constructed of local timbers and corrugated iron shipped from England would have hidden the rich and evocative atmosphere of the inside with its original carvings, painted metal wall panels, and furnishings imported from China in the late 19th and 20th century's. Many of the original artefacts which were removed from the temple in the 1960's have since been returned.
How Wang Temple
Standing inside the temple I felt surrounded by the ghosts of the past and the peace this temple would have provided them. 

 In the early 1900's the temple was in the middle of Athertons Chinatown. The Chinatown consisted of a Main Street lined with small timber and iron shops and houses. Although there was nothing allowed to be built opposite the Temple. 1909 saw the area as the social and commercial centre for over one thousand Chinese people living in the Atherton district. The majority of the Chinatown population were male as shown in one of the early census with the total population in Main Street being 404, which was made up off 400 male and 4 female. 

"This temple is dedicated to the deity Hou Wang, who in real life was a man called Yang Liang Chieh, an uncle and Commander of the Bodyguard of Ti Ping, the last Emperor of Sung Dynasty in China. He was deeply revered for his brave deeds during the Mongol invasion of 1280 and eventually he became worshipped as a deity. "

Monday, July 11, 2016

Malanda 100 year celebration

This past weekend the charming little country town Malanda held their 100th Agricultural Show.

As Malanda is only about a 15 minute drive we thought we would have to go and spend some time there. I have always loved the Royal Melbourne Show and until my late 20's I never missed a year. I have so many wonderful childhood memories of the show with my Mum and Dad. How about you, do you have a favourite childhood memory from a show you've been too? Please share your memory with us in the comments.

I Love the Clowns
Country shows have such a fun close knit community feel to them and this one was no exception. Country shows are also a lot cheaper admission than the city shows at only $10 per adult and $5 for seniors - woohoo thanks goodness we are now seniors!!

From what locals were saying it was a lot bigger this year due to it being the 100th anniversary. There were all the usual attractions such as the rides etc. in sideshow alley, the many food vans, show jumping, wood chopping and as this area is the milk capital of Queensland there were lots of cattle. 

Being a crafter I always enjoy the food and handicrafts hall and once again this one was not a disappointment. The photography and quilting section especially grabbed my attention.

On our way home from the show we decided to call into the Peeramon Pub which is the oldest pub in the Tablelands being built in 1908. It would have been a majestic building in its day, and the stories those walls could tell. But unfortunately with the damage it received in Cyclone Larry and with a lack of loving care it is looking a little worn and unloved. But it was still an interesting part of history to visit and have a beer.
Historic Peeramon Pub

Saturday, July 9, 2016

The Wonder of Mother Nature

The wonders of Mother Nature are very evident up here in the Tablelands. Millions of years ago it was a hostile place with a lot of volcanic activity. Hence the extremely fertile soils, the beautiful crater lakes, and the amazing countryside scenery. The rolling green fields are very reminiscent of Tasmania. Our Friday adventure took us out to the Danbulla State Forest to another one of Mother Natures stunning creations - The Cathedral Fig. Like the Curtain Fig we saw the other day this tree is a gigantic 500 year old strangler fig. After walking down the 200mt easy pathway through the dense rainforest, the site of this spectacle just takes your breath away, it is like something out of Lord of the Rings.
The eerie 500 year old Strangler Fig

The top of the fig had so many huge ferns growing
It is almost impossible to get the whole tree in a shot, so I decided to have a go with my fish eye lens for my iPhone. It is advertised to have the reputation of being the best place to hear the early morning birds singing. Well I can say we weren't there early in the morning but there certainly was a lot of birds singing.
Trying to capture all of the tree with my fish eye iPhone lens was even a challenge
Next it was onto checkout a couple of the crater lakes. First up was Lake Barrine which was only was only a short drive of the Gillies Hwy. Situated on the lake is the Lake Barrine Tea House where you can go on a scenic cruise and have a delicious Devonshire Tea for $22.00.

Lake Barrine
 Next it was onto Lake Eacham another crater lake not far off the highway. This lake seemed to be the one where everyone heads for some water activity. There were a few kids swimming and a couple of people paddle boarding. There was also a sign warning that there was a freshwater crocodile in the water and to take care.

Lake Eacham
Along with the views and the fabulous produce this area provides we have noticed a few other things about the Atherton Tablelands. The majority of tourist attractions are free, they are just there from Mother Nature for us all to enjoy. Another thing is that there are a few shops that multi-task. In Atherton we went into a coffee shop for a bit of lunch and it was combined with a fabric shop. Actually my perfect shop food and fabric. Then in Yungaburra we found a chemist and fishing tackle shop combined and almost next door was a lolly shop, wedding cars and irrigation shop combined - very convenient for some I guess.