Cape York via Simpson Desert 17 June 2015 – Day 16

Wednesday, Jun 17, 2015 at 18:10

Peter Beard (WA)

Not much to report again today, just a visit to some of Chillagoe's caves and rock formations, and a 200km drive down across the Atherton Tablelands to Cairns.

The Chilligoe Eco Lodge and Observatory is highly recommended for anyone passing through this part of the world. Our spa suite had a verandah out the front with a table and chairs overlooking the lovely gardens and bar/eating area, a delightful place for a cup of tea and muesli bar for breakfast.

Around 9:00 we headed back up the Burke Development Road to the Mungana to view the Aboriginal rock art and Royal Arches cave. The Arches aren't really a cave, more a series of valleys though the limestone rocks but that was more than enough amateur spelunking for a pair of claustrophobes. Back towards to Chillagoe we also checked out Balancing Rock. Yep. It's balancing alright. Oh the temptation to just give it a nudge...

After that it is an easy drive down to Cairns, some gravel sections but mostly bitumen. We lunched in Mareeba, the biggest town we have seen since Alice Springs. It must be civilised, it has a MacDonald’s, a KFC and a Red Rooster; a real shopping centre and more than one street! We found a shopping mall on the main street, bought a couple of coffees and some sushi and headed down the Kennedy Highway towards Cairns.

The landscape turns decidedly tropical coming down from the Atherton Tablelands. Canefields, mango orchards and coffee trees sit in the middle of lush palms, thick bushes and riotous ivy. The road from Kuranda to Cairns is a series of tight switchbacks descending down to sea level, a rather unpleasant experience in a vehicle that weighs three tonnes with an accommodation suite strapped to the roof. Finally we reached the ocean - from the Indian to the Pacific in just over two weeks. Phew. What a journey.

A few days R&R (repairs and replenishment) in Cairns. Finding a place to stay in town that had off street parking high enough to accommodate a 2.4 metre tall vehicle is challenging. We have settled for a bit of luxury at Trinity Beach – a one bedroom apartment with a washing machine - and Pete has found a spot to change the oil in the Landcruiser, hopefully without raising too many eyebrows, and to fix the HF radio. That’s if for now, time for a beer. Next blog is likely to be on Saturday somewhere to the north of Cairns.


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