Heading back into the lush, green rainforest and much cooler temperatures, we based ourselves in the town of Atherton to explore the Tablelands. We stayed at a fantastic Big4 caravan park, one of the best we’ve stayed in. Atherton itself is fairly small (although not in comparison to some of the outback towns) but there is so much to see and do around the area. We easily filled our 8 days there. Granny and Pa met up with us again part way through our stay after they finished their time further up the coast.
The highlights of our time in the Tablelands were exploring the many waterfalls, particularly in Malanda which has a great informative and interactive display of the geological and social history of the area; a day trip to the Innot hot springs and Bubba’s favourite the crystal caves which is a manmade cave with hundreds of crystal and gemstone specimens set into the walls and ceilings, all the work of one man’s collecting over his lifetime.
One of our favourite day trips was out to Granite Gorge on the way to Mareeba. The gorge is on privately owned land which the owners have converted to a campground and also welcome day visitors. Just below the office are a series of large flat granite boulders where you can feed a rare species of rock wallaby. Bubba and the Jazzy Devil had a wonderful time hand feeding the small wallabies who would hop up and hang on to your hand while gobbling down the pellets available from the desk. There were also two walks that took us scrambling over the granite boulders through the gorge. The Jazzy Devil put in a fine effort and made almost the whole of the first walk, climbing up rocks and bounding along the rough tracks. Granny and JD then headed off to the weir for a swim while Bubba, Pa, Matt and I tackled the second walk. Actually it was more boulder hopping and sliding than walking but we had a great time doing it. The walk also afforded beautiful views of the rocky gorge and streams winding their way through the granite.
There was a woolies and an IGA in Atherton, both of which had a good supply of gluten free foods and UHT rice, coconut & almond milk, particularly the IGA there. There were also two health food shops that had plenty of organic and gluten free goodies and I even managed to stock up on our Moo Goo shampoo and conditioner which was very exciting. We managed to get a good steak at the Atherton Hotel and a delicious piece of salmon at the fabulous Yungaburra pub but aside from that restaurants in Atherton and surrounding towns really didn’t cater for gluten free let alone dairy free too. Our last day in Atherton I spent shopping and cooking and stocking up the van ready for our trek west. I filled up every available bit of storage space with cartons of non dairy milk, gluten free flours, sunflower seeds, pepitas and other dried goods. Thank goodness I did too as it turned out it was 20 days before we’d hit our next major supermarket and those small ones in between were pretty light on in food options for us.
We really enjoyed our stay in Atherton and were sad to say goodbye to Granny and Pa but we were excited and raring to go on the next leg of our journey into the unknown across far North Queensland along the Savannah Way. Those stories will be coming soon! Until then eat well and live happy.