Oh so sudden…western plains to rainforest

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!

Great rhythms, appreciative audience
Ted trying to find something to buy that would fit in the van or be edible…

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,- over 120 years old
A park, with grass!
The wheel that used to turn and drive the Mill

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.

The scenes out of the car window are like a blessing after so many weeks on the western plains
A highway with the jungle hardly held back
So, after so much red dirt, we find ourselves in a ‘Room of Leaves’ (apologies Kate Grenville) – this, believe it or not, is a caravan park – can’t see another van for the jungle surrounds
Up close it a miracle of splendid, unstoppable growth
Walking Charlie in the rainforest remnants even seems to amaze Charlie
… and everywhere you look there are scrub turkeys, unafraid. And if it won’t run, Charlie has nothing to chase!

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.

Fingers crossed.

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