The Atherton Tablelands

Sunday 11th November
Late start again. Fed the local birds. Alison calls me over to the public area, a few chairs under a sunshade with the statutory barbie equipment. There are two exquisite finch-like birds dipping in the water of a little ornamental stream. They are slate blue trimmed with brilliant scarlet on rump and eyemask. We sit for half an hour and see a beautiful bird which looks like a miniature emperor penguin which has remembered how to fly. There is a larger green bird with rich olive plumages, a lizard sitting on a piece of pink granite and and our first genuine kangaroo. Well OK it’s a pademelon, (a small wallaby) but if it looks like a kangaroo and hops like a kangaroo….
We decide to visit Herberton, a heritage village around 25 miles from here. As we leave we spot a couple of antechinus close to the cabin, a reminder to keep the net door closed.
We drive through the strange, Edward Lear landscape of the Atherton tablelands in brilliant sunshine with the Aussie commentary from the Gabba on the car radio. Herberton heritage village is the old mining village. There is old equipment outside baking and rusting in the sun, the place is deserted, perhaps because it is 25 dollars to get in. It’s getting late anyway so we decide to move on. The lady who’s in charge comes out, I imagine she is going to regale us with tales of hardship and heartache and implore us to come in. This is not the Aussie style. She is friendly,open and genuinely interested in our travels and chats for quite a while.
We carry on to modern Herberton. We both think it reminiscent of a Wild West township or the last Spanish town we met on our abortive day out to Portugal. This latter impression is reinforced when we sit at a cafe table with our iced teas and ice cream and the radio plays a selection from ‘Carmen’.
On through Atherton, another Wild West township, to the Hypipamee crater. An enormous hole in the ground of volcanic origin and scary dimensions. It is next to the Dinner falls, an impressive series of cascades. On the way in we encounter a sign telling us to report ‘…all cassowary sightings and incidents.’ Regrettably we have neither to report.
Back towards Yungaburra with a magnificent vista of high hills surrounding us in the far distance as the sun drops low in the sky. At Yungaburra we call in on the Curtain Fig Tree. This is an aboriginal site centred around an extraordinary tree which started out as a parasite on another tree, long since killed and rotted. The structure that remains is huge. A vast curtain of roots or suckers as the name suggests. The site is well presented with a walkway around it and well worth a visit. The animated group of Japanese tourists in front of us clearly seem to think so.

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