23-24 June: A wet weekend on the tablelands

Author: Mrs A

Location: Atherton & Yungaburra

We awoke Saturday morning to a new phenomena for us – drizzle! We’ve not seen weather like this for a long time, and it was quite a novelty.

Today was market day in the village of Yungaburra, about a 20 minute drive from Atherton. Diving there, the scenery looks like parts of the UK, but with wider roads and tropical crops such as sugarcane nestled alongside the paddocks of cattle. The flocks of gangly legged Saurus Cranes feasting in the sorghum fields were also not quite fitting with the British Isles!

Arriving at Yungaburra, we saw sweet little buildings and flower lined streets, more akin to an English village, not your typical Australian settlement.The market was great too. Alongside the stalls of fresh-from-the-farm vegetables and herbs were bakers, jewellers, artists (including musicians, painters, woodworkers, ceramic workers and potters), massage therapists, plants of all varieties, flowers and even fertilised eggs, chicks and chickens for sale. It all felt very authentically country.

We spent quite a bit of time there, soaking up the atmosphere and enjoyed some delicious food, chatting to some of the locals as we sheltered from the rain.

A short walk from our campground concluded our day as the rain continued throughout the afternoon. We discovered the pathway up to a nearby ‘mountain’ starts just metres from the back of where we parked up in the campground. We didn’t walk all the way up to the lookout – the low cloud would have blocked any views anyhow.

Sunday morning started in much the same way, with the occasional dry patch between the showers. Tassie decided she would take me on a walk, and bravely strolled up the same path Mark and I had taken last night. Again, we didn’t get too far before Tassie decided it was time to return to the Zone. She always amazes me with her courage – as a 14 year old predominantly indoor/garden cat, she had not really travelled much before last September, but now she’s been right across Australia. She always knows where the safe Zone is, and keeps her wits about her, even when being dive bombed by birds…they don’t seem to understand she’s a lover not a catcher!There are plenty of birds here. We have spotted pale yellow robins, firetails, finches galore, and lovely purple and green fruit doves feeding on the mandarins on and below the tree beside where we are camped. The little black and white Willy Wagtail is the feisty one, always flying at Tassie and frightening her back indoors. I guess he’s met some hungrier cats in his lifetime.

As the rain settled in we decided to go for a drive, heading for a local dairy with a good reputation for cheese and milk chocolate. Being dairy intolerant, it wasn’t really my first choice of location, but I was happy to go along – happy husband, happy life after all!

As we drove along, we spotted a sign to a local national park I had read about. It contains around 220 of Australia’s 700 bird species, so is extremely ecologically important. And as a bonus for us, it had a two storey under cover bird hide so we could try and spot some while remaining dry. We called in for a look.

Hasties Swamp did not disappoint. The first thing that grabbed our attention was the noise. Literally hundreds of Whistling Ducks floated along the shoreline, all whistling away, and so beautiful. Many other varieties of duck and water bird were there too, as well as a Little Kingfisher (yes, a kingfisher that is, urm, little). We stayed longer than we expected, watching as little dramas unfolded and dissipated among the flocks, and as pairs of pink eared ducks (which have zebra patterned feathers) swam in circles in pairs catching their food. Just fascinating.Soon the cheese was calling, and off we went to the farm where Mr A tried some cheese and purchased a delicious (according to him) blue.From here we drove a short way to another little national park – home to the Curtain Fig. This tree is a survivor in a small patch of remaining rainforest which was saved from the saw in the 1800s by the rocky surface, not ideal for grazing. It is protected by a raised boardwalk, and pretty magnificent.

We returned to camp for a late lunch and an afternoon of planning our next section of trip. Next Sunday will see us leaving the coast and heading back across the Atherton Tablelands on an adventure to the Northern Territory over the Savannah Way.

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