Exploring Queensland, July 2006. Part 9. Georgetown to Ravenshoe: snakes, hot springs and a tin dred

Wednesday, Oct 25, 2006 at 16:16

Member - John and Val

The Georgetown caravan park was doing good business thanks to the wet weather, as quite a few travellers came in to dry out. We spent a day there doing routine “housekeeping”, phoning the kids and being entertained by friendly blue-faced honeyeaters. Neighbouring campers, like us, are puzzling what to do in this awkward weather. The forecast is for light rain for at least the next 24 hours. We paid a visit to the local, and well set up “I” Centre Hoping for info about the Undarra lava tubes; but no luck there, though they did suggest a couple of spots for a bush camp.

After another warm, humid night we decided to move east in the hope of finding a bush camp where we can sit out the rain. After checking a couple of places that were already occupied we found a track that led to a pretty waterhole. There were signs that others had camped there so we decided to do likewise. It was well off the road, had water and firewood, and was very pretty – as close to a perfect camp as you could wish for.

So we draped the tarps over the tent and settled in to wait out the weather. VKS skeds were busy with road and weather reports – there were quite a few roads closed around northern Qld so we were pleased that we were now snug and dry. Except that we were wrong about being dry. We remembered that we had stowed our cold weather gear including doonas and clothes up on the roof rack, and on checking found them to be quite damp. So we hastily rigged a clothes-line and hauled out the lot to air and dry.
We also went exploring, and attempted to walk around the waterhole but had to turn back when the scrub and long grass got the better of us. There are quite a few flowering shrubs – grevilleas, kurrajong and native kapock all making colourful displays. It was also interesting to see that mixed in with the river red gums that line the waterhole there was quite a lot of young Pandanus adding a tropical touch.

John went for a walk but soon returned calling for Val to come quickly. He had found a large snake consuming a bird – have a look here at what we saw over the next 40 minutes. But we were apprehensive about being too close, although all was well in the end.

There were lots of birds – blue-faced and other honeyeaters feeding in the flowering grevilleas, friar-birds, bouble-bar finches, butcher birds, and a few water birds patiently patrolling the edges of the waterhole. Towards evening a small group of red tailed black cockatoos settled on a dead tree and we were able to watch the sun lighting up their beautiful red tails.

We were sorry to leave this lovely camp but as the weather had cleared it was time to move on. We turned down a road to Einasleigh but it quickly deteriorated so we turned back. At Mt. Surprise – a very tidy and helpful spot –Troopy had an unexpected wash as we went through a vehicle spray designed to get rid of unwanted weed seed. We bought some provisions and had a look at the gemstones on display there, before heading off into the Undarra NP. There we found a walk around a volcanic crater made up largely of what had once been frothy rock. We took lots of photos of a weird landscape that boasts a hundred or so other volcanic peaks. We had heard back in Mt Surprise that the tours of the lava tubes were booked out for the day so we contented ourselves by identifying the course of the tubes from our vantage point on the crater rim. Well at least we could say we had seen them. We decided to move on towards Innot Hot Springs, though we stopped briefly for a walk in the vine forest in the 40 Mile Scrub NP.

We finished the day having a long soak in the wonderful hot pools at Innot Hot Springs. We arrived there about 4 and quickly set up in the fairly busy campground so that we could have as much time as possible in the pool – it’s a great spot to relax. We spent the next day in and out of the pool and generally relaxing as well as planning an itinerary that would eventually take us home over the next month.

Reluctantly leaving Innot, our first objective was to drive the short loop from there to see an old abandoned tin dredge and a nearby waterfall. We had been given a rough description of the track that first took us past areas that had been dredged leaving wetlands where we saw plenty of brolgas. The sound of the vehicle disturbed them and they took off treating us to quite a show as maybe a hundred big birds flew low over the trees.

Then we found the dredge and it was huge, with a pontoon roughly 50metres long by 25m wide and as high as a 3 or 4 storey building. Apparently it came from New Zealand at the end of WWII, but when the price of tin dropped just a few years later it was abandoned and has sat there ever since. A bucket from it is at Mt. Garnett.

From there we made our way over rough tracks to the waterfall, which falls over a ledge of rock into Blunder Creek which becomes the Herbert River. There are good campsites there and evidence that others have enjoyed camping there among some very large paperbarks. From that point we seemed to lose the main track but continued on along minor tracks, making frequent detours around fallen trees that had come down during Cyclone Larry last March. Finally we were back on the bitumen and driving back past Innot HS having done a great little drive, but one that does not seem to be promoted much.

Heading towards Ravenshoe we detoured into Millstream Falls where we had lunch and admired the waterfall – Australia’s widest - and its spectacular layers of columnar basalt. At Ravenshoe we did a bit of shopping and dropped in a tyre for repairs. It will be ready tomorrow so we decided to have a look at Tully Falls and see if we could find a camp for the night somewhere beyond that.

We had a good view of the Tully Gorge, but there was no water coming over the falls. What we did see was the damage caused to the rainforest and the road by Cyclone Larry. Many of the trees had all their leaves stripped off leaving just skeletons, and there were great mounds of rotting leaves everywhere. The road, although sealed was in very poor condition with lots of potholes, again courtesy of Larry.

We drove down to Koombooloomba Dam, getting yet another flat tyre just as we arrived. There were a couple of other campers and we had no trouble finding a spot although the ground was sodden and any potential firewood was wet through. Well, this is the wet tropics so what do we expect.
J and V
"Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted."
- Albert Einstein
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