Tuesday, October 9, 2012

The Savannah Way: Across The Gulf

From our (mis)adventure being towed near Coen we headed south through Laura and the abandoned goldfields of Mount Mulligen and Tyrconnell - honestly a blog post in themselves but I'll push on as I'm so far behind with the blogging these days...

After spending four days in Cairns, getting the ute serviced, doing some shopping, getting another months worth of meat cyovac-ed, receiving some mail from home (!!!!!) we headed back up to the Atherton tablelands. For those that don't know, I am from a potato farm in Gippsland, turns out they grow potatoes and a whole lot more in Atherton also. A phone call to my Dad and 12 hours later we find ourselves on a farm tour with the friendly and obliging Frank, taking us around his different properties, talking to Matt about all things potatoes, dairy cows, lateral irrigators and centre pivots (i.e. Matt talk). Very impressive country - potatoes growing next to bananas next to canola next to pumpkins next to wheat. Crazy.

From Atherton we headed to Herberton, more old mining history and surprisingly a camera museum! Random, yes, amazing, also yes. It was actually a spy camera museum with incredible buttonhole and pocket watch spy cameras dating from the 1800's. People think that camera phones are amazing nowadays?! Loads and loads of photography history and examples of different types of cameras and photographic techniques. Needless to say all my uni lecturers droning voices came flooding back into my brain!

Matt and Frank surveying the Golden Delights

In his element - farm tour!

I taught him everything he knows...

From Herberton we headed further west to Chillagoe - another old mining town but also home to some amazing caves and Aboriginal artwork. Firstly we headed out to The Arches, then to The Balancing Rock - weather really starting to heat up into the high 30's out west. A lot of marble mining in Chillagoe so there were literally whole huge blocks of marble scattered throughout the landscape. Kitchen benchtop anyone?

We did a guided tour of the largest cave, The Royal Arch. Amazing labyrinth of caves and then opening out to large chambers, most of which are not lit or open to daylight so we had to carry highly attractive caving torches. As well as the guided tour we did two self-guided caves by ourselves, one of which was quite the tricky decline into and rock scramble out of! I'll admit I was a bit scared we'd be trapped underground for all eternity. So very dark also, take spare torch!

The Royal Arch cave

The Royal Arch cave

From Chillagoe we joined up again with The Savannah Way at Mount Surprise and continued west towards Croydon. By far the hottest day/night we've had was the day spent in Croydon and the night before on the Norman River. We didn't really have a clue at the time how hot it was, we supposed about 40 degrees, but several days later in Lawn Hill National Park it hit 40 degrees there apparently and it was cooler than in Croydon! 

Croydon is a very historic town, with a precinct in the main street with a lot of old preserved buildings such as the town hall, courthouse, gaol and hospital. There is an interactive display in the courthouse where you can listen to an actual case from 1902 and sit on the jury benches. The case was that of drunk and disorderly and swearing in the main street by one Mrs Brown! But goodness it was hot - so very, very hot. Matt thought it hilarious to lock me in the cells in such conditions?! Thankfully just out of Croydon is a large lake where Matt tried his hand at catching a barramundi (the beginning of a long and sorry saga). It was hot, did I mention that???! A swim within the croc net seemed to help.

Matt the juror in the Croydon courthouse

Well needed swim to cool down in the 42 degree heat - and being locked up in the old Croydon cells!
We continued north and finally hit Normanton, the major town on The Gulf. Here there is the giant barramundi and the giant crocodile - while is apparently life size replica of one shot in the 1970's?! A lot of very historic buildings in Normanton such as the Burns Philp Store which was gorgeous inside, old pubs and railway station which The Gulflander train still runs out of. From Normanton we headed out to Karumba where Matt did some fishing on the beach, no giant barramundi on the line so we got some local fish and chips for lunch instead. Oh. My. Goodness! Hands down the best fish I have ever had the pleasure of devouring. So good.

But west we will head...so back in Luxie and off into the sunset, still following The Savannah Way to Burketown then south to Lawn Hill National Park - one of our must-see destinations this year on our honeymoon adventures. And still the heat beat down...

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