From the Tablelands to the Coast. Week 6.

Feature photo: The Ducati GT1000 parked opposite the “Big Pub” Malanda, Queensland.

  • Week 6
  • 15/07/21 to 21/07/21.
  • Day 36 to 42.
  • Glenore Crossing, Norman River to Cairns, Queensland.
  • 866kms (total since home, 7617kms). 

(10/08/21) Hello to you all, glad to bring you week 6 of our 16 week Australian Pandemic Tour. Our trip is going to plan but I’m now certain that I’ve contracted some sort of mosquito borne virus. Possibly “Barmah Forest Virus” when I cross check the symptoms on Dr Google. Muscle fatigue/ache, rash, nausea, skin sensitivity and just generally fatigue overall. If I can get in I’ll see a doctor and get a blood test once we arrive in Mount Isa in the near future.

Otherwise both Jenny and I are fine, Rodgie is ok and getting the hang of this travelling gig. No doubt she will be happy to get home. All our equipment is working as expected but we do drive with extra mechanical sympathy compared to most people I observe out here. Everything is nicely dusted and dirty but it will clean up with a little effort.

The weather is starting to heat up in FNQ and it’s nearly time to head for southern latitudes before it becomes unbearable, today it will be 33C in the Gulf Country. Very glad to have you along and give you just a small taste of what is going on out here during the times of lockdowns and closed borders. Will, Jenny & Rodgie dog.

The intrepid duo, selfie time at Tinaroo Dam.

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Day 36, Thursday, Date: 15/07/21

From to where:  Glenore Crossing, Norman River to old Cumberland Mine Site.

Distance: 260km

Accumulated Distance: 7011km

Cycling Y/N, KMs: no

Fuel $: 100 @ 149.9cpl Croydon 

Litres: 67L economy = 18litres per 100km

Accom type & cost: Free , Abandoned Cumberland Mine/Township 

Grocery Food $:

Take away food $:

Beer/Wine/Soda $:

Other $:

Day Total $: 100

Rolling Total $: 4456

Gopro footage: GP8

DJI Drone Footage: no

Weather: 30C hot and fine

Notes: “Just a standard travel day, with crocs & grass hoppers”.

During are drive we stopped at Croydon (very nice small town) and Marsupial Creek gravel pit (a more than adequate overnight camping location). 

Cows at Cumberland mine (Gold, 1871-1899, chimney built in 1889) are freaking Jenny out. It’s because Rodgie gets all agro with them, barky bark, bark, bark…growl ! We met Donna and Graham at Cumberland who had camped close to us the previous night at Norman River. They confirmed they did see an 8 foot Salt Water Crocodile at Glenore Crossing.

Cumberland was crowded with Campers and Cows, happily they’re all a docile bunch.

Rodgie enjoyed playing with their 21 month old border collie cross dog “Maggie” in the reasonably clean and safe creek that is flowing out of the dam. There ultimately ended up being lots of campers here, mostly in some sort of van or caravan. Friendly bunch but we always prefer a nice spot to ourselves in a private location. That’s becoming more difficult to achieve the closer you get to the east coast. Every wanna be Will, Jenny and their Dog is out here…lol.

As per usual we had a quick shower each just after dark, this time we put the shower enclosure up, which is very easy but you need to let it dry out before stowing it away. Have nearly gotten the Camper hot water system sussed out. Heat it up for 15 minutes and you’re good to go for two or more people, no cold water required, just turn the hot to full and let Jen go first. Simple as that ! So nice to go to bed clean, much better than a cup or bucket bath with a damp cloth.

Tomorrow who knows where we will end up, currently low on fresh food and sunset drinks so will need a shop somewhere. Maybe Mount Surprise ?

Info sign about the history of Cumberland Gold Mine and Town.
There are still some of the original Mine/Town dams with lots of bird life to watch.
Quite rare to see these days but occasionally you come across old converted Buses travelling the roads.

~~~~~~~~

Day 37, Friday, Date: 16/07/21 

From to where: Cumberland Mine Site to Mount Surprise.

Distance: 120km

Accumulated Distance: 7131km

Cycling Y/N, KMs: no

Fuel $: 

Litres: 

Accom type & cost: $15

Grocery Food $: 9

Take away food $:

Beer/Wine/Soda $: 75

Other $: 15 lunch at pub, shared fish, chips & salad.

Day Total $: 114

Rolling Total $: 4570

Gopro footage: GP8

DJI Drone Footage: no

Weather: 32C hot and fine

Notes: “Poor Quality Queensland Roads”.

Not far today, very relaxing morning at Cumberland, lunch at the Mount Surprise Hotel. Lots of single lane bitumen and single lane concrete bridges with way too much traffic and many people who don’t know how to drive on this style of road out here, some of the drivers are very dangerous !

“Ok Will if you’re so good how do you drive on single lane bitumen”.

“Funny you should ask, Jenny and I have unfortunately had way more experience than the average bear on this type of road, happily in WA they are now quite rare”.

Right, firstly consider that the posted speed limit is 100km/h, try dropping you speed down to 90km/h maybe more if you are towing. You see an oncoming vehicle approaching, you both ease off the accelerator, a lot.

When you are approximately 300 metres from each other and now travelling between 60-70km/h you both move carefully halfway off onto the gravel and by the time you pass each other you’re going slower and not throwing up any rocks. 

Passing manoeuvre is complete and you pick the easy spot to hop back onto the road, gently accelerate back up to a reasonable speed. Only one other vehicle passed us today driving like that, they obviously know how to drive. Everyone else was driving dangerously and they’re mostly not in a constant all wheel drive vehicle like us. I wish them well, we’ve seen some seriously mental driving styles on the single lane bitumen.

It’s an embarrassment that Queensland still has major highways in this condition in the year of 2021. I’m talking about the National Highway Number 1 here. Utterly pathetic, obviously the Queensland State and Australian Federal Government are not genuinely serious about road safety. They’re all talk but don’t really care, their idea of a solution is to put up more road signs, just keep collecting that revenue. Just my personal opinion from what I’ve observed while driving along the Gulf Developmental Road.

Home for the night, Mount Surprise Campground, $15p/n. Nice grass !
You see many unusual insects whilst travelling, this moth on our car door caught my attention.

~~~~~~~~

Day 38, Saturday, Date: 17/07/21

From to where: Mount Surprise to Atherton.

Distance: 228km

Accumulated Distance: 7359km

Cycling Y/N, KMs: no washed gravel dust off bikes

Fuel $: 

Litres: 

Accom type & cost:  $120, 3 nights at the Travellers Rest CV Park Atherton , very nice Caravan Park, green grass, great ablutions good location.

Grocery Food $: 195

Take away food $:

Beer/Wine/Soda $: 28, wine and port for later in tour. No Q’s asked.

Other $: 12 car wash and camper wash

Day Total $: 355

Rolling Total $: 4925

Gopro footage: some GP8 not much need SD card.

DJI Drone Footage: no

Weather: only 24C at the Atherton Tablelands, cloudy, very pleasant not much wind, drove with windows open for the day.

Notes: “Our first substantial town since Darwin, nice” !

Once again a slow start out of Mount Surprise, on the road by 10.10am, trying to time our arrival into Cairns for maintenance, servicing and minor repairs. Amazing drive into Atherton. Fantastic scenery, windy roads, pastures intermingled with rain forest. So much to see here in a short time frame. 

Upon our arrival we made our first stop at the off leash Dog Park for Rodgie, where we also had lunch. Then off to the other end off town to wash the car and camper at “Sud it n Go”. Next we checked into the Atherton Travellers Park for 3 nights ($40pn) set up camp, I left Jenny and Rodgie to get comfortable while I did a big shop at the local IGA.

Looking forward to a 3 day break here.

We thought we had been to Atherton before but both of us are now sure we have it confused with Mareeba. Very sure this is our first time here. It looks great, special, unique. We will have more of a look around tomorrow.

~~~~~~~~

Day 39, Sunday, Date: 19/07/21

From to where: Staying in Atherton did day trip, Malanda to Tinaroo.

Distance: 80km

Accumulated Distance: 7439km

Cycling Y/N, KMs: no

Fuel $: 

Litres: 

Accom type & cost: 

Grocery Food $:

Take away food $:

Beer/Wine/Soda $:

Other $: $90, food and drinks at Malanda Big Pub and Atherton Carrington Hotel.

Day Total $: 90

Rolling Total $:  5015

Gopro footage: GP8

DJI Drone Footage: no

Weather: 27C max Fine

Notes: “Atherton Tablelands, beautiful area”.

Turned into a very interesting day, we started off slow, Jenny got some washing done than we took Rodgie for a walk up to Hallorans Hill (no dogs but we didn’t realise that at the time). Good view, we’re at about 750 metres above sea level here so cooler weather. The population of Atherton is about 7500 so it’s a good sized town.

Hallorans Lookout, Atherton.

Next we headed to Malanda about 19kms away. Jenny’s New Zealand cousin Adrian had just flown into Cairns with a mate Gill (and Ken), the three of them were rapidly preparing for a motorcycle tour. Ken was already in Queensland. In Malanda they have a friend, Mike and his wife Liz. Mike is a huge Ducati fan and has a large collection of all types of Ducati’s. You name it there is a very good chance that Mike has it.

Adrian and Mike preparing the Ducati Multi Strada for the journey.
TMS Workshop.
Great to catch up with Adrian from NZ, Jenny’s cousin & fellow bike enthusiast.

Mike is loaning Adrian and Gill a couple of older (original release) Ducati Multi Strada’s, Ken has his own 103ci, 2012 Harley Davidson Street Glide. The Blokes were all busy preparing the bikes for a 3 week, 9000km mega ride. After greetings and some chit chat, we left them and headed into Malanda. We Stopped at the historic Big Pub on the Main Street for lunch. 


Next we headed up to Lake Tinaroo, a 35km2 dam that looks very nice. Rodgie chased the ball and wet her paws , we explored around by car than drove back to Atherton. That night we caught up the Crew at the Carrington Hotel, Atherton. Before Jenny and I walked the 1.5kms down the hill into town I asked our van neighbours Darryl and Michelle if they could keep an eye on Rodgie. It was a relief when they said no problem. 

Atherton Tablelands Region. Definitely put it on your wish list for a visit.
They also produce hydro power at the Tinaroo dam wall.

While we caught up on the going on’s with everyone, Mike offered Jenny and I a couple of Ducati’s to ride tomorrow. He also has heaps of riding gear we can borrow. What can you say too a generous offer like that ?

So tomorrow we’re off on an unsupervised mini motorbike tour around the Tablelands on a couple of Ducati’s. 

Dinner at the Carrington Hotel, Atherton with the Crew.

(NB: Adrian and his friends had to abort their motorcycle tour early when the New Zealand Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern announced that NZ is closing its border with virus riddled Australia and that all NZ citizens have 7 days to return home or don’t bother coming back. The Blokes did make it to Darwin and hurried back to Cairns where they only just made the last flight home.)

~~~~~~~~

Day 40, Monday, Date: 19/07/21

From to where: Atherton to Malanda and return.

Distance: 50km

Accumulated Distance: 7489km

Cycling Y/N, KMs: MOTORCYCLE 65kms

Fuel $: 148, @ 147.9cpl

Litres: 100L, economy slightly under 17L per 100kms

Accom type & cost: payed, Atherton Travellers Rest

Grocery Food $:

Take away food $: 25 cafe

Beer/Wine/Soda $:

Other $:

Day Total $: 173

Rolling Total $: 5188

Gopro footage: GP8 some of me on the motorbike & iPhone7 

DJI Drone Footage: no

Weather: cooler 24C and overcast 

Notes: “Thundering through the Atherton Tablelands”.

Busy enough morning, Jenny did washing and book keeping, I walked the dog and cleaned up. By 11.30am it’s time to head off to Tablelands Mechanical Service (TMS, for short) also Drill North. To catch up with Mike and Liz. Once there we wondered around the property, looking at the various machinery. Down the back of the property is a good sized pond and I briefly spotted a platypus, as soon as it saw Rodgie and I it was gone.

The pond behind Mike & Liz’s property where I briefly spotted the platypus.

Mike got me geared up and sorted out with some riding gear and wheeled out a 2007 two tone cream and black GT1000 Ducati, it’s actually Liz’s daily rider and has 136000kms on the odometer. Jenny wasn’t up for a ride but I’m keen to experience some of the winding roads in the tablelands. The Ducati L twin air cooled motor sounds terrific as I blast along. It’s not the first time I’ve ridden a Ducati but it’s been a good 10 years since the last ride on one (a near new SR4).

I ride some circuit that takes in Yungaburra, top of the Gillies Range and return. Then I stop in Malanda for coffee with Jenny and Liz. Finally I ride along the Upper Barron Road to Hipipamee National Park and return. Now that was spectacular, no photos as I’m to busy hanging on.

Definitely a left of field day for me, very enjoyable. Once back at camp Rodgie had a play with a couple of friendly British Bulldogs, belonging to Garry, she was nervous and barky at first but settled down after 5 minutes. Later a heavy mist or light drizzle rolled in so everything became wet. Tomorrow we head for Cairns, that will be a busy time.

Jenny with Liz, her and Mike have lived in Malanda for 20 years.

~~~~~~~~

Day 41, Tuesday, Date: 20/07/21

From to where: Atherton to Cairns & around town shopping.

Distance:  108km (87km from Atherton).

Accumulated Distance: 7597km

Cycling Y/N, KMs: took them off the camper.

Fuel $: 

Litres: 

Accom type & cost: $100 Cool Waters Tourist Park

Grocery Food $:

Take away food $:

Beer/Wine/Soda $:

Other $: $155, jockey base 50, sd card 69, yarn 20, LPG 16.

Day Total $: 255

Rolling Total $: 5443

Gopro footage: minimal GP8 of Gillies decent.

DJI Drone Footage: one day

Weather: hotter on the coast 30C fine.

Notes: “Gilles drive to Cairns, we survived”.

(10/08/21) I didn’t write up anything about this day only some brief dot points recorded below. The drive down the Gillies Range was amazing, something like 218 turns over 19kms and a 700mtr decent from memory, crazy stuff ! Cairns is big, population of 160k, spread out but quite scenic with the backdrop of mountains covered in jungle. The Cool Waters Caravan Park was a ripper, large dog off leash area next to it, crystal clear creek running along it’s boundary. Lots to achieve the following day so we hoped to get Rodgie into doggy day care but when they met Rodgie  she barked so they weren’t interested. Travelling with a dog can be challenging at times.

  • Dog play in Atherton 
  • Rodgie not accepted into doggie day care, Cairns.
  • Great walk around creek.
  • Crazy shopping run around Cairns hard to find stuff .
  • Busy place .

~~~~~~~~

Day 42, Wednesday, Date: 21/07/21

From to where: Cairns

Distance: 20km

Accumulated Distance: 7617km.

Cycling Y/N, KMs: YES, JC = 7km, WC = 15km

Fuel $: 

Litres: 

Accom type & cost: payed Cool Waters CV Park

Grocery Food $:

Take away food $: $43, lunch at Coffee Club.

Beer/Wine/Soda $: $40 beer

Other $: $300, Landcruiser Service, $36, trailer wheel balancing.

Day Total $: 419

Rolling Total $: 5862

Gopro footage: none

DJI Drone Footage: no

Weather: 30C fine.

Notes: “Vehicle Maintenance Day”.

  • Up at 6.30am.
  • Drop Camper at Torque Tyres and Trailer Parts.
  • Drop Landcruiser at Pacific Toyota.
  • Courtesy Bus back.
  • Clean and service bicycles.
  • 7km return bike ride with dog to shops. Rainforest bike path.
  • Cycle into town to pick up Trailer and Car, forgot trailer keys so had to tie bike onto rack, 8kms.
No Car, no Camper. Yes we got some strange looks and questions. It was actually very reminiscent of our cycle tours. We still have bikes, so not really stuck at all.
8km bike ride to the shopping centre and return.
What ultimately will become the theme of the Australian 2021 Pandemic Tour, “Sometimes you just have to improvise”.

Thanks for reading this episode, the Camper Trailers wheel alignment ended up being fine and the Landcruiser was as expected, normal. Rodgie, Jenny and I enjoyed staying at Cool Waters Tourist Park as the creek walk and dog park kept us all happy. We also had a great time cycling some of Cairns cycle paths. Right now (10/08/21, Cairns is caught up in a government imposed Covid lockdown. Apparently it’s for 3 days, anyone who has been in Cairns on or after the 29th of July is also required to lockdown, isolate, self imprisonment, call it what you want. Luckily we left there in the 22nd.

Travelling during this pandemic is a challenge, at present we’re heading for home. Even Jenny and I are unsure as to which route we will take. Stay tuned, Will.

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4 thoughts on “From the Tablelands to the Coast. Week 6.

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