Saturday, July 26, 2014

Northern Exposure (part 2)

alternately titled : Living on the Edge

I last left you as we departed Julatten laden with pine cones and rolly around fruit and things in the back of the car. Heading back to Mareeba and our cabin, The Husband wanted to check out this other road where OF COURSE there is always machinery and other super duper fantastic treasures to be looked at.

Very luckily (for me and kids) but there were no fantastic rusting bits of machinery to be seen but I did, quite absently, read out a sign that I saw, EMERALD CREEK FALLS. Then the blinker came on and off we went exploring.
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There seemed to be a fair bit of UP in the road that were were following. We were surprised to find quite a lot of sugar cane growing in the area, which was clearly not of the same fertile soils as other areas on the tablelands (the higher and rougher it gets, the less fertile the soil).
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What goes up must go down and finally we did indeed go back down again. The photo does not adequately convey the steepness of this section of road and now we understood the NO CARAVANS part of the road signage. As certainly on the way back on this same road I ended up finding a very low gear in order to get up and over. holy smokes.

Anyhow, we found the camp site. A lovely running creek could be seen and heard, but tempting us was the sign that said FALLS –1.9 kms return trip. That is 950 metres each way. PIECE OF CAKE.
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Someone in the National Parks and wildlife team wants to go and get some lessons on distance as that was the longest bloody ninehundredandbloodyfiftymetres I have ever walked in my life. More like 1.9kms EACH WAY.

Still it was a nice walk despite being somewhat steep and having a bunch of torturous bloody steps half way along. All that what must go up – there was a big waterfall up there somewhere! The track followed the creek along and one could see little tracks down to favoured swimming holes along the way. Children had to be restrained. We were going to see this BLOODY WATERFALL.
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We finally reached the end of the official walking track that led to a little look out where one could admire the torrent of water pouring out over the rock at the top of the mountain. The flow of that water! We would have dearly loved to climb further and see the source of that gushing flow. But we did suspect that what we thought was the top of the hill was but a crest and there was a lot more mountain up there. But geez would have like to have seen the spring that fed that torrent.

At this point my phone went flat, quite over the longest 850 metres ever as well. We turned back around and walked back down (surprisingly so much shorter on the way back, perhaps its 950 metres on the way back?!) which ended up being a much trickier prospect in unsuitable sandals than the climb up had been. We took a break and dipped out feet in THE iciest water I have ever dipped my feet in. Numbing stinging cold. Like out of the fridge cold. We refilled out water bottles from the creek.

So we then drove back up that steep and interesting road…where the “living on the edge” comes into the equation. Fuel light on orange, some questioning frowny looks to The Husband and children living in fear that they would “starve to deaf” that evening if we ran out of fuel on the way back into Mareeba. (however I did not mention that I had found that one can travel approx 35kms on orange without any exciting things happening, that is just between you and I, Ok?!). Fortunately with only 11kms to travel were able to refuel without incident.

The next morning we packed up and headed off homewards. We continued our thing with steep mountain goat walks to look at waterfalls with a visit (and last run for the kids) at Little Millstream Falls. Air was quite brisk at Ravenshoe.
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(a long way down; side note it would be nice if they would remove those two trees ruining the view!)
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And then we drove and drove and drove. Had lunch on the road back in the dry country and got stuck behind a hay truck from our part of the world for aaaagesss. And made it home just before dark.

Our northern exposure done for another year.

northern exposure (part 1)

After Grandma’s party, and checking waters and deciding we really could NOT drive home again straight away, we decided to take another day off. A 9 hour drive each way with a day off in between is not the funnest holiday. So we left our bags unpacked, booked the cabin for another night (despite its three forks and FREEZINGness each morning) and headed even further north for the day.

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We headed down the Rex Range – pulled up at one of the lookouts and admired the view over Mossman and the surrounding farms. Its crushing season and the mill could be easily picked out.

We went to Mossman with the purpose of visiting my mothers oldest sister and her husband. Fortuitously we were also able to kill two birds with one stone (perhaps not the most apt term to use really?!) as my mothers’ brother and his wife were also in town and called in for smoko. None of them are getting any younger and I must say I was a bit shocked to see how much some of them had aged in the couple of years since I’d seen them. But then again, I am positively middle aged myself these days….

Of course my Aunt Heather brought out the cake and the biscuits and all sorts of other lovely goodies served on the good china (she told me that she thought, bugger it, it never gets used! so uses it whenever anyone turns up for a cuppa). Kids in heaven as I saw her sneaking them each a soft drink out of the back fridge with a little chortle. It was great to see them all. I am kicking myself now, I did not take a photo of them all with the kids.

Fed up on cakes and again needing to undo top pant buttons, we drove past the mill on my uncles directions (retired engineer) and think we may have slightly trespassed however got to see the sugar trains coming in and the bins being tipped out. Angus had a running count happening of all haul out trucks we had seen on out travels and the count was pretty high.

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The kids then requested a beach visit, so the closest one to town was Newell Beach which I hadn’t visited ever before. One of those quiet coastal townships, with its service to the tourist trade limited to the fish n chip shop (open 7 days!!!! but closed on Mondays. Guess what day we were there!)

We checked out the beach. Looked pretty fine as beaches go. Fine fine sand and lots of shells. Kids removed with much whining and moaning.

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With the fish n chip option scratched off the list, and CLEARLY in need of more feeding, we hit the bakery and found a pie. Enjoyed in the coolness of a local park by a river that I had swum in as a child. Buggered if I know how we did it, the water was absolutely glacial. We were fascinated by local flora (black bean tree I have been told).

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There may have been quite a collection of seed pods chucked in the back of the car. Probably highly illegal. We then wound our way back up the Rex Range, and pulled up at Heather’s Julatten weekender block. I’d live there in a heartbeat. Gorgeous.

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As you can see, we stopped at Julatten with a purpose – to collect pine cones (for our wood heater). Added one large garbage bag to the black bean contraband in the back of the car. Checked weather reports and wished I had another garbage bag.

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We also wandered down and checked out the fruit orchard, down a steep driveway that did not seem so bad going down. But going back up laden with odd bits of citrus? a TOTALLY different story!

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Not such a shabby view from the front steps!

We then added citrus fruit to the increasing load of rolly around things in the back. Also collected were a couple of mystery fruit items which I consulted the collective brains trust of Instagram and Facebook about. (unripe sour sop and chocolate sapote apparently!)

The adventures of the day did not finish there! But I’ll bore you again another day with the rest….

Friday, July 25, 2014

90 years

During the school holidays we packed up and headed north to greener pastures to celebrate the 90th birthday of The Husband’s paternal grandmother.

Feels like we’ve done this road a bit of late, and we made good time. The favourite swimming spot just out of Mt Garnet was packed with grey nomads chased very far north by the cold.

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We rolled down the windows to breathe in the fresh tablelands air as soon as we climbed the escarpment and across the Millstream to Ravenshoe.  On a mission, we didn't do any wandering touring around the back roads but drove straight through to Atherton through Evelyn (my dad’s old stomping ground) and Upper Barron, some of THE most prettiest countryside ever.

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The kids were super excited about the prettiness and the greenness and freshness. Back seat shenanigans and noise had father’s blood pressure rising. He isn’t keen on those bits of extra bendy steep rainforest roads with hyper children squawking in the back seat. Ah. Good times. Every family road trip has them.

Grandma’s birthday celebrations were to be held in the busy town of Mareeba. With six children, and looooots of grandchildren plus a very healthy dash of GREAT grandchildren, there was nearly as many family members as years racked up attending the RSL for a luncheon.

Photos were of course taken.

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This being The Husband’s branch of the family tree pictured with Grandma. There was NO attempt to try and squeeze the whole family into one photo. It was torturous enough trying to get some of the more prolific breeders of children organised in one photo. (I was tasked with helping to arrange the groups pleasingly to help the photographer – an aunt – not have a nervous breakdown!)

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Ah. Another stellar family shot. We are really getting a rather good collection of these gems. Sigh.

Cousins had a great time giggling and meeting up with second cousins once removed that they’d never seen before.

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The tables were beautifully decorated by one of the granddaughters, with doilies and bunches of flowers, and grandmas favourite colour (lilac).

And then, after we were well fed and watered and everyone had chatted and talked and caught up and happy birthday sung, we went home to our cabins with top pant buttons undone.

Happy 90th Birthday Grandma!

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