Sunday, 18 October 2015

Mamu Tropical Skywalk

Forest walk
If you love visiting and exploring rainforests as much as I do then a visit to Mamu Tropical Skywalk where you are surrounded by the canopy of the rainforest is well worth the visit. It is located in the Wooroonooran National Park as is Babinda Boulders and Josephine Falls which I talked about on previous posts. As Mamu Tropical Skywalk is managed and operated by the same people who own Paronella Park, Cameron had the opportunity to also work here for a few months.

Elevated skywalk
View from the top
Almost all who visit Mamu Tropical Skywalk are able to have a similar experience of being surrounded by the rainforest and canopy of the trees despite the thick nature of rainforest and steep mountain terrain below. To ensure equal accessibility, groups such as Innisfail Disability Focus Group, Disabilities Services Queensland and Guide Dogs Queensland were consulted before and throughout construction. Admittedly a lot of the places Cameron and I visit and write about are not always accessible for everyone such as those with wheelchairs, mobility scooters, prams, or vision impairment. Mamu Tropical Skywalk is.

Map board
Mamu Tropical Skywalk is located on the Palmerston Highway section of the Wooroonooran National Park, and is a 1½ hour drive from Cairns. There is plenty of car parking space including a section for caravans and motor-homes making it easily accessible for travellers. You are most likely to be greeted by Phil who has worked for years as a park ranger in the area. Phil is very knowledgeable, friendly and down to earth. He will welcome you to the land on behalf of the Mamu people (the local Aboriginal group). If you have time after your visit take some time to get chatting with him and you will come away a different person. From here make your way up to the entrance deck where you will find some picnic tables as b.y.o lunch is allowed, toilets, drinking fountains where drink bottles can be filled up, light refreshments such as ice blocks and the ticketing booth. It is from here that you will be given a botanical guide (which can also be used at ParonellaPark) and an audio guide and headphones. Grab an umbrella if it is raining or looks like rain before you enter through the entrance gate and the journey begins. For the full experience, allow for a minimum of 1 hour to visit. 1½ is a comfortable time. Timing is up to the individual though.

Observation tower top
Observation tower bottom
The 2.5km return journey starts off with a forest walk. It is a flat path through the forest that very gradually descends leading to the cantilever, the skywalk, and eventually the observation tower. The forest walk goes for more than a kilometre at ground level of the rainforest. There are covered rest shelters with seats through the forest walk, and information boards as well. The breathtaking views start just after the first rest shelter as you make your way along the 40m cantilever. Although only 40m from the forest walk and forest floor on the cantilever you find yourself being surrounded by the canopy of the trees for the first time. The cantilever extends 10m out from the last support posts of the elevated platform. It is very stable as it is designed to withstand cyclonic winds. There is a viewing platform at the end of the cantilever, providing stunning views of the valley, gorge and rainforest below as the ground drops away steeply. Return to the forest walk which then connects to the 350m elevated skywalk. The support posts and platforms are 15m high and between 10-15m apart. There are many parts along the elevated platform that allows you to return to the forest walk at any time. When Cameron and I visited Mamu Tropical Skywalk for the first time on the way to the tower we stuck to the elevated skywalk, then on the return we went via the forest walk. At the end of the forest walk/ elevated skywalk the observation tower is reached. Follow the short final elevated walkway to the first viewing deck, then climb the 100 steps to reach the viewing deck that is 37m high. The second viewing deck is the only part of the park not able to be reached by wheelchair however there are still spectacular views from the first deck. You can see clearly to the North Johnston River, Bartle Frere, Mount Poorka, even all the way to Bellenden Kerr Range. Mamu Tropical Skywalk is a beautiful part of the Wooroonooran National Park.

View from the observation tower
Audio guide
On the audio guide you can choose from 9 different languages. Some audio guides I have listened to before require you to stay in the area while listening to certain tracks. Here though, you are encouraged to walk and listen at the same time, but there is no rush as it is timed well. The tracks are informative and varied covering topics such as the Mamu people, how Christie Palmerston explored the area, the use of timber, World Heritage listed rainforests, the skywalk design and how it is environmentally sustainable. There are also information boards throughout the walk.

As Paronella Park is a sister park of Mamu Tropical Skywalk, you can upgrade your ticket for a two park pass deal. The discount works out to save you about 10% off per park. However the upgrade must be bought from the original park you visit, not when you arrive at the second park. You also have access to a loyalty card at Mamu Tropical Skywalk that lasts for 12 months with 50% off admission on your next visit.

Cameron and Bubba Bunyip on the cantilever
The character that Cameron has on his shirt is part of the Li'l Aussie Monsters collection. Bubba Bunyip is the first character that he designed all the way back in 2011 not long after we met. Earlier this year he decided to make his characters available so that they could join us and others on the adventures we go on byputting them onto T-shirts.

Happy travels, and follow you dreams.

- Jeni

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