Monday 19 August 2013

Atherton Tablelands and Surrounds.

The Tablelands are really a beautiful place. We drove there from Cooktown. The scenery is beautiful, as you see all of the hills and the the shadows cast on them. There is much to do and explore in this area.

Crystal caves Atherton,

For the first few days of our time at the Atherton Tablelands it was wet most of the time. This deterred us from exploring the outdoors, however we had seen this place advertised called “The Crystal Caves” in Atherton. Sounded interesting so thought we may as well go and check it out. The place had started in the 80s. Basically from a man named Rene and his precious stone collection. The caves are not real caves but man built caves with tunnels right under the streets of Atherton, with each room displaying a different array of beautiful crystals and gems. They really are spectacular. In many areas the geodes have been sliced and polished then put on display. It is interesting to see the different patterns inside of just the one geode. Some of the Gems were more beautiful under UV light. Torches were to be turned off so the real beauty could be seen. In one room were two very special features. A water feature made with 4 tonnes of Rose Quartz, commonly known as the stone of love, and a GIANT amethyst geode known as 'The Empress of Uruguay”; 3.5 Meters high, and 2.7 tonnes. I can't really describe it awesomeness, and how spectacular these two features are except by using a word I learnt from two German's we were travelling with for a week whilst up at the Cape. The word is WUNDERBAR! It means wonderful, but it is said with such emphasis that what you are describing sounds more exciting than the English translation.

Mt Hypipamee National Park, The Crater and Dinner Falls,

A few days later in the sunshine we found ourselves having such an eventful day. So many spur of the moment things. We set off with our intentions to go to the Innot Hot Springs, a place I had seen on the map. We were not long out of Atherton when we see a sign for Mount Hypipamee National Park, The Crater and Dinner Falls. Again, this was just a discovery for us as we'd not planned it. We took the turn to the car park, then walked to Dinner Falls. It was a nice waterfall but nothing on what was to come. We continued our walk to “The Crater”. As mentioned no research was done so we didn't know what we were expecting. I was thinking a large meteor. We got to the sign to read about how it had formed from a giant gas explosion. We continued around the corner and we were awe struck! According to the sign it is 50m above ground, then continues another 30m under water and that is just the vertical part! The shaft then turns at 80m. So far on our travels, I would say this is the thing I have been most amazed by. I would love to see a documentry of a robot explorer on this site. Whatever is down there would be pretty unique.

Windy Hill Wind Farm

Back on the road we start seeing the giant windmills for the wind farms, using wind as a renewable energy source. There are 20 turbines, and can generate energy for 3500 homes. In low- medium wind the blades do 6rpm, up to 36 rpm. In high winds they automatically shut down as to prevent damage to them. They certainly don't lie about the name of the place. It is very windy. Being very high altitude it was also cold wind.

Ravenshoe (The highest town in Australia).

I'm not joking that this is on the signs for the town. There is a pub that even says “ Welcome to Queensland's Highest Pub” - Hotel Tully Falls. Jokes aside, we enjoyed Ravenshoe, although I leant later that I pronounced it incorrectly as Raven-shoe instead of Ravens-hoe. We were arrived just as the markets were packing away, but in time to buy some really yummy honey in a milk carton! On our way to the information centre to find out how to get to the hot springs we saw some high school students waving signs for a car wash. Seeing as we'd just come back from the Cape, Rocky was pretty filthy, so we thought why not, saves us doing it. Cameron and I had forgotten what a clean car looked like! It was so shiny! Hats off to the year 11s, Thanks heaps!

Millstream Falls

Millstream Falls were on the way to the springs. They are the widest single drop falls in Australia. Since it was the dry season, they were not as spectacular as they are in the summer wet season, but still nice. There was also a walking track where an old Army camp had been situated in WWII. The most interesting things was that the Army only cleared out the unexploded bombs from the area in 1990. Nealy 50 years after the War!

Innot Hot Springs.

After wanting to come here since I saw it labelled on the map a few weeks prior, I almost didn't come here. The man at the information centre at Ravenshoe tried to talk us out of it saying it wasn't spectacular. Cameron had to talk me back into it, and I'm glad we went. The stream was really hot. In one part there was steam evaporating off it. It averages 78 degrees Centigrade. The water is hot as there is a fault line where it soaks down to the magma level, then pushed back up to the surface because of the heat and expansion. We stayed at the Innot Hot Springs Leisure and Health Park, where they use the water in their public pools of varying temperatures. The hottest one it is recommended not to stay in there over 10 minutes. Cameron and I couldn't even make 5 before we had to switch to a more bearable temperature. There was a really cold one right next to it and it was interesting going between the both. When going from cold to hot felt like defrosting, with a  mild tingling feeling like pins and needles on the body.

Undara Volcanic National Park Lava Tubes

The last place we visited in the Tablelands/ Savanah Way (the following day), was the Undara Volcanic National Park, Lava Tubes. This is something that Cameron had wanted to do. The National Park “is home to one of the Earth's longest lava flows from a single volcano in modern geological time.” (quote from the pamphlet). According to our guide there have been over 69 tunnels discovered. As the lava flowed slowly, it allowed for the outside of it to cool and harden, but the inner parts were still hot enough to flow slowly, causing the tubes. If it had gone faster or slower they would not have been able to form as well as they did.

Even though we've been to the area twice, there are still so many beautiful places we are yet to explore. The tablelands is definitely an area I would love to visit again one day.

 - Jeni

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