It was so sudden – this morning we were in neverending plains of red dirt or yellow grass, the vastness of a big sky, so big it dominated everything in our tiny scrap of flat world. As we drove away from Hughenden towards the Atherton Tableland, we hardly noticed the rise – a slight increase in revs was the only indication our altitude was increasing, our attention taken by the poor quality of the starving cattle, bones showing, huddled around depressions that looked as though they were meant to be dams.
Then the surroundings miraculously changed, the trees were green, there was undergrowth, also green, the undulations in the road started to be noticeable – there were crests and hollows – we’d forgotten in the many weeks in the plains, that such things existed, so came as a surprise – oh look, there’s a hill coming… we’re approaching the Atherton Tableland, from the west and the cattle are looking fat and well-fed.
With the undergrowth still increasing, mile after mile, we are transiting through tiny Mt Morgan, just when there’s a garage sale in the main street and an aboriginal band playing around the corner – must stop for coffee!
Now we go on to Ravenshoe, finding a park with green grass down to a flowing river – who would have thought?… a river with water in it, called the Millstream. So the wheel which used to turn the mill is now preserved in the Rotary-maintained park.
Ravenshoe has been a supply town for the western areas of Far North Queensland for over a hundred years, and this hotel has been there for a hundred of them – still operating. But we’re still only at six hundred metres – on we go, with growing excitement.
Now there are misty vistas on every side, the air is softer, fresher, we reach 900 metres and it’s all happened in one morning’s drive.
So here we are in Millaa Millaa, after ten years, and heading for Cooktown, if we can ever bear to leave this marvellous, cool but tropical climate.
The only thing marring our journey is the damage Ted did to his back when he tried to lift the generator, sideways, several weeks ago. Maybe here, in this long ago home of chiropractic-like treatment culture, we shall find a magician to cure him immediately.
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