Saturday, 25th May 2002

Curtain Fig Tree SignCurtain Fig Tree Sign

The Atherton Tablelands are a good bit higher than the coastal area and so have quite a different climate. A very agricultural area but whereas sugar-cane dominates the coastal areas here it's cattle country.

There is a lot to see here. Volcanic activity has left lakes like Lake Barrine or Lake Eacham, and vents like Hypipamee Crater. There's wonders of nature like the Curtain Fig Tree (the strangler figs seemed like plants from another planet.) Strangler figs literally strangle whatever they grow up, leaving shapes out of Doctor Who. Came across trees which have flowers on their trunk rather than branches (called cauliflory.) Weird.

Millaa MillaaMillaa Millaa

Among the other attractions in the Tablelands are the waterfalls. There is a loop you can do which takes in three of them (Millaa-Millaa Falls, Ellinjaa Falls, and Zillie Falls.) It's all pleasantly rural and as yet denied the chance to catch up with the rat race.

I stayed at Chambers Wildlife Rainforest Lodges close by Lake Eacham. Every night John Chambers feeds the pademelons (a small squirrel like marsupial) with fruit and describes their complex social organisation. They post guards round the ones feeding, regulate the distances between each animal. There's honey gliders and muskrat kangaroos not to mention plentiful bird-life. Like the stupid scrub turkeys which take no care of their eggs. A torch is recommended as it gets pretty dark at night.

An evening of night-time animal spotting with naturalist Glenn Holmes is my fondest memory here. He led me to a mere where we waited in the dusk for platypuses to emerge. He showed me stone curlews in a cemetery. He hung out of the car window spotlighting possums in the trees. We wandered down lonely lanes and bats flew through the torch beams. Really different.