4th to 5th July 2017
Mission Beach to Cairns 225kms
Tuesday turned out to be a beautiful weather day, with sun and warmth, and a great opportunity to get down to the beach for a proper look. No rush though, as we sat and enjoyed the great morning. While in our little bathroom, Will noticed something rather unusual, and called me in to witness it for myself (not on his person, no, outside). Looking out through the little window, we could see a cute pair of Tawny Frogmouths, snuggled up together on a branch, sleeping the day away. So impressed Will noticed them, and we could observe them so easily.
Time for a walk, and finally get my feet wet. Just my feet, the water isn’t that warm, and it’s not even close to 35C yet. But it was very nice to stroll along this great stretch of fine Aussie beach. We had a good view of Dunk Island, and could even see as far as Hinchinbrook Island. Perfect day. We had a good look around South Mission, and relaxed, blogged, and watched our bird neighbours.
The YHA has great gardens, and the beach was very nice to stroll along. Dunk Island looks interesting, with lots of walks and snorkelling.
We’ve eaten most of our food, in preparation for getting to Cairns, so we found the only open restaurant in walking distance, Nana Thai, and had a pretty good dinner. The rest of the night was spent in the common area, with all the new, foreign residence. All of us sitting together, but not interacting. We must all have needed a break from “chatting”. I certainly did. Nice just to sit and read together. Tomorrow we head to Cairns, via the inland loop, and would you believe our bikes are due another service. Hard to believe we’ve travelled far enough since Sydney.
Wow, we woke up later than we wanted to, right on 8am, which meant no lazing about. Up, pack, brekkie and get going. It was a warm, sunny, humid morning, and our birdie neighbours were back on their perch, sleeping again. Still cute. We only had enough milk for cereal and one coffee each, so that didn’t take long. Very quiet at the YHA this morning too. Upon leaving, we have to strip the bed, and put the linen in their laundry basket at reception. No worries, just don’t look at what’s underneath the sheets, we know what young, good looking travellers, get up to, and it’s best not to think about what you might be sleeping on. I was doing very well at this, until we had cleared out the room, and my final inspection revealed a shiny silver packet, under the bed. Yep, you guessed it, a condom wrapper, and it was empty. Dirty, (lucky) bastards. Instead of picking it up, though, I slid it out from under the bed (with my shoe) where the young guys cleaning, will find it and wonder about us old cootes. He he he he, kept me amused for a while anyway.
Stupid Destiny wanted us to backtrack west, to the Bruce Highway, but instead, we went east towards Mission Beach, and headed along the coast to Bingil Bay, for a different road, and it was beautiful. Good decision. Lovely Rainforest on the beach. It was a very nice start to what ended up being another magic day riding in North Queensland.
This is what the tropical north east is all about. Beaches and forest, together.
From Bingil Bay we headed out to the old A1, and turned north towards Innisvale. We aren’t going to actually go there on this adventure, as we want to take the long way round to Cairns, through the hills and tablelands. So we turned off about 15 kays south of Innisvale, to aim for Atherton. Now we find ourselves weaving between cane fields and banana plantations. All we need now is some good butter and we can have caramelised bananas. Yum!
Heading westward, we are gradually climbing through the good old Great Dividing Range (GDR), and find ourselves really enjoying some magnificent views across rolling farmlands, and even thick rainforest. Lots of road works and roadside mowing going on, which slowed us down a fair bit, but it helped us to really take in the scenery. We took a quick rest from it at Henrietta Creek camping ground in the Wooroonooran National Park. Lots of 4WD’s camped here, looking like they have been to the top of Cape York and back. Very muddy. It looks like a nice spot with several walks and the possibility of Platypus. As with most national parks these days, you have to book online and display your booking ticket. There is no reception here, and no printer, so what do you do if you just stumble across it like we have?
One to remember for another trip, no Platypus hunting for us today.
We wound our way through the park, then more farmland with cattle, more sugar cane, and then a really different crop, I couldn’t recognise from a distance. As we came around a bend and down the hill, we noticed it was actually tea! That is right, one of my favourite tea brands is from here. Nerada Tea! If you like a strong flavoured tea, this is a nice one. So it was just after lunch, and we got to Malanda, where the tea is processed, and we also had a discrepancy with Stupid Destiny and my original route. So we rode into town, found a cafe, and discussed the options over a burger.
A neat little town producing tea, dairy and the spruiking the longest running theatre in Australia. Well, I guess it could be true.
For a change, the old GPS had a short cut that looked pretty good, and neither of us were worried about not actually seeing Atherton. So we headed towards Gordonvale, eastward again. This was the bit of road that looked pretty good on the map. Little did we know just how good it would be. The Gillies Range road ended up being the absolute highlight of our day. Taking us past several big Lakes, and then winding us back through the GDR and The Gillies Range. Amazing bike riding, with awesome sweeping corners, tight bends, rain forest, granite rock formations and just magnificent views across the plains. Just got to watch those campers cutting the corners. It was super fun though.
This was just the start of the fun. Going up was great, but growing down was better.
Just at the start of the downhill run, was Heales Lookout. It was very nice, and we weren’t the only ones out enjoying the ride. This guy on his Canam Spider was loving himself sick.
Totally recommend this ride to all motorbike riders. Bloody fantastic. Other vehicle passengers might get a little car sick though it would still be good.
Eventually we had to turn back onto the boring old A1, and make our way into Cairns, to find the Central Cairns YHA. For a city of 170,000 people, it is actually pretty easy to get around. We arrived safe and sound, checked in with the happy and helpful staff, and unloaded our crap. This is a pretty big set up, with great facilities. Right in town, within easy walking distance (even for dick legs) to everything. So we walked, did shopping, and had a beer at the pub next door, before returning to cook dinner in the communal kitchen with everybody else. This was an interesting experience. Ten or fifteen groups, all cooking at the same time, different cultures, different age groups, different foods. Quiet a new experience, and I really loved watching everybody’s processes. Lots of variety in ages here, which was great, and a bit surprising. Everybody from young backpackers, to families and elderly people too. So good to see such variety.
We made it to sunny Cairns in one piece, had a beer at the famous Croc Bar, cooked with strangers, and banned Becky from partying with the backpackers.