ROAD TRIP DIARIES 24
Mt. Bartle Frere
We were pleasantly surprised with how our spur-of-the-moment visit to the enchanting world of Paronella Park had turned out so Charles and I decided to have one more detour to Wooroonooran National Park before setting off for Cairns.
After a hurried breakfast and one last walk around the exotic gardens of Paronella Park, we were back on Bruce Highway diverging towards Bartle Frere – Queensland highest mountain. It wasn’t our first rainforest national park on this road trip, but we figured it was near and accessible while the scenic Josephine Falls were a mere half an hour walk from the start of the trail.
We made it in no time to the viewing decks overlooking the creek and Josephine Falls. It was an easy stroll along a paved track in the midst of yet another lush rainforest, which is also part of the World Heritage listed National Park.
The abundant rainfall on Mt Bartle Frere, which looms over Wooroonooran National Park, continuously feeds the raging water on Josephine Creek and its numerous waterfalls and swimming holes. Flowing from the south-east side of the summit of the mountain, Josephine Creek tumbles over granite boulders forming the tiered cascades of Josephine Falls.
After checking out the different view decks and exploring the various walking tracks, we went back to the swimming hole near Josephine Falls. Charles quickly scampered up the enormous boulder and slid down the natural water slide while I delighted myself with the excellent photo opportunities it offered. I joined him later for a quick dip and it wasn’t long before tourists started to pile up including a busload of visitors from Cairns.
We were quite surprise how popular the place was although it wasn’t the most spectacular falls we had seen on this side of Queensland. Perhaps it was because of its proximity to Cairns, where most of its visitors come from, as well as its accessibility.
But like the Noongyanbudda Ngadjon (noong-yan-budda-nud-jun), the local Aboriginal people who call this haven home, and the early European settlers who frequented this spot, we were grateful we paid a visit. It was a refreshing way to start our day and definitely another worthwhile detour.
The Babinda Boulders Scenic Reserve
Shortly after lunch, we made it to the sugar cane countryside of Babinda about 57 kilometers south of Cairns. Its name is thought to have been derived from the indigenous word “bunna binda”, which meant waterfall. It wasn’t clear, however, whether the aboriginal people were referring to the waterfalls at the nearby national park or the huge amount of rainfall it receives annually.
This time our detour was about the Babinda Boulders, a popular swimming hole lined with a series of gigantic boulders, which have been shaped and smoothen by tropical rains. The tranquil rainforest, the crystalline water flowing from Mt. Bartle Frere and the breathtaking lookouts were equally impressive as the ones in Josephine Falls but it was the Aboriginal myth and history of the surroundings that made our visit more interesting.
“According to legend a beautiful girl named Oolana, from the Yidinji people, married a respected elder from her tribe named Waroonoo. Shortly after their union another tribe moved into the area and a handsome young man came into her life. His name was Dyga and the pair soon fell in love. Realising the adulterous crime they were committing, the young lovers escaped their tribes and fled into the valleys.
The elders captured them, but Oolana broke free from her captors and threw herself into the still waters of what is now known as Babinda Boulders, calling for Dyga to follow her. As Dyga hit the waters, her anguished cries for her lost lover turned the still waters into a rushing torrent and the land shook with sorrow. Huge boulders were scattered around the creek and the crying Oolana disappeared among them.” (QLD Tourism)
The Sweet Scent of Gondonvale
We were determined to reach the city before dark so we didn’t make any detours until we reached Gordovale. It was hard to ignore this town that seemed to beckon us before we had even reached it. It smelled like steaming sweet corn in the beginning and then of burned sugar as we came closer to the town center.
And then we saw the Mulgrave Central sugar mill dominating the landscape of the town center. Thick colorless smoke billows from its chimney and emits a strong sweet scent that permeates the surroundings. It was rather a peculiar structure to be situated near the town center but it was surely doing its part in drawing visitors to this quaint town. There was a museum as well across the street and some historic relics on display in the park but we didn’t linger long at Gordonvale after finding out that the sugar mill tours were no longer running.
With one last push, this time with no more pleasant interruptions, we finally made it to the only place I requested to be included on our itinerary. Hello Cairns
(This is part of our 6-week North Queensland Road Trip Series, which took place July- August 2010)
Australian Road Trip 101: A Vantastic Beginning
Road Trip Diaries # 1 – An Encounter with the Strangest Animal in the World
Road Trip Diaries # 2 – Of Strangler Figs, Leeches and Long Holidays
Road Trip Diaries # 3 - Exploring Finch Hatton Gorge
Road Trip Diaries # 4 – Cape Hillsborough: On Bush Walks Beach Strolls and Star Gazing
Road Trip Diaries # 5 – Cape Hillsborough: Sunrise and Wild Kangaroos
Road Trip Diaries # 6 – Airlie Beach: Beaches Babes and Backpackers
Road Trip Diaries # 7 – Ocean Rafting to the Whitsundays
Road Trip Diaries # 8 – Unexpected Encounters
Road Trip Diaries # 9 – Exploring Bowenwood
Road Trip Diaries # 10 – Townsville: Finding Nemo and the Sunken Pandora
Road Trip Diaries # 11 – A Visit at the Billabong Sanctuary and Castle Hill
Road Trip Diaries # 12 – Magnetic Island: What Captain Cook Missed
Road Trip Diaries # 13 – Paluma Range National Park: A Walk in the Clouds
Road Trip Diaries # 14 – Of Didgeridoo, Exotic Fruits and Why I love Camping in the Bush
Road Trip Diaries # 15 – Jourama Falls: A Gray Nomad Affair
Road Trip Diarues # 16 – The Bird Man of Tyto Wetlands
Road Trip Diaries # 17 – The Quest for Wallaman Falls
Road Trip Diaries # 18 – Hinchinbrook Island: Experiencing the Wilderness
Road Trip Diaires # 19 – The Tully Show: My First Aussie Fair
Road Trip Diaries # 20 - Mission Beach: Where Have All the Cassowaries Gone?
Road Trip Diaries # 21 – White Water Rafting at Tully River
Road Trip Diaries # 22 – Finding Our Way to the Enchanted Ruins
Road Trip Diaries # 23 – Paronella Park: The Dream Continues