Okay, I will no longer be using the WordPress app to draft my blog posts as it just erased the post I was working on. Wasn’t even uploading it, just one second there, the next blank. So now I’m using Jotterpad and copying/pasting as to not cause myself any more mental breakdowns.
Left Dreamtime at 8:10 on the Wallaby bus heading towards Yungaburra. While boarding, I became painfully aware that my new bag is really too big. I struggled to get it down the aisle – get the feeling I’m going to end swapping it back round for the 40l when I see mum again…or at least send back/throw out anything I don’t use in the next month.
I’d chosen to due a tour the hostel provided on the way to Yungaburra, stopping alongside some of the bigger attractions in the area. First stop was the cathedral Fig Tree, a huge monster in the middle of the rainforest. Fig tree’s grow on other trees, sprouting branches for sun and roots that crawl down the host tree choking it to death. Eventually, all that’s left is the fig tree’s massive root system acting as a trunk with the branches above. The bat tree’s in Cairns were similar, but nowhere near as big as this.
The next stop on the way was Lake Barrine – a beautiful lake surrounded by forest. There are no rivers or streams entering this lake – its maintained by rainwater and its ecosystem, and you’re not allowed to bring powerboats anywhere near it. You can swim in it, but we were here mostly for the forest – swimming would come later.
Sadly, once you’ve done one rainforest walk they start to blur into one another. We were on the lookout for any native animals, but were unsuccessful. On the plus side, the guide identified several species of tree and plant we might not know, including 2 huge paper bark trees, and a plant with heart shaped leaves we must never touch unless we want to be in agony for the next 2-12 months.
Lake Eacham was our first swimming option, created from a volcanic eruption thousands of years ago. After lunch we had the opportunity to swim, or head to the first waterfall of the day a little bit quicker. Everyone chose to go to the waterfall, though I did go wading in the water.
Really wished I’d gone in completely once I’d left the shade and entered the heat again – it was getting very hot considering its still just spring. A few minutes watching a large boa sleeping on the rocks near the car park, we were back in the very stuffy van and off to Millaa Waterfalls.
Famously known as the ‘Most Photographed Waterfall in Australia’, it has been in dozens of adverts, including Herbal Essence Shampoo, where the woman flicks her hair in an arc. A pose a few girls wanted to try.
The unfortunate thing, was thanks to the forestation and position of the sun, there wasn’t much heat, and the water was viciously cold. Combined with a rocky floor it made for a difficult crawl into the water to start with. Though once you got in and used to it, the water was refreshingly pure, and swimming was a cakewalk. Only issue is getting through the waterfall, which has quite a bit of force behind it despite looking pretty tame, and then you’re free and up onto the rocks. Couldn’t stay out too long though, or the water felt too cold to go in again! Great just swimming under the fall and letting the current float you on your back and to shallows.
Once they’d dragged us die hard swimmers out, we packed back into the bus and headed to another waterfall in Mount Hypipamee National Park. Our first stop wasn’t falling water, but another volcanic crater lake – far different from Lake Eacham.
Known as a ‘diatreme’, the Crater is similar to a pipe, and underneath the green duckweed, the water is very fresh and clear. Our guide Bart told us that nobody is certain just how deep it goes, the current record for divers is 130 metres (I’ve since looked up the crater online and found that this is complete hearsay – divers in 2011 found the bottom was 75 metres).
We then headed towards Dinner Falls, but along the way, one of our group spotted something in the trees…
It was a tree kangaroo! Only found in the rainforests of cairns and supposedly very hard to spot. We were lucky to be far away enough to take photographs without spooking him, and certainly made up for not spotting any cassowary birds earlier in the day.
Sadly, although Dinner Falls was a really cool place, and the water looked really inviting, there was no sun whatsoever and everyone was starting to get chilly. As such nobody really wanted to go into the water, and we left without taking a dip.
It was almost time to say goodbye to Bart, as we rolled into Yungaburra Lodge. The only hostel in a small town a short drive from Atherton, it runs all the backpacker tours and Cairn transfers in the area. As the only one staying more than 1 night, I was checked in a little bit earlier than everyone else – and given a room to myself (at least for tonight), before everyone went down to the local river for platypus spotting!
The platypus is my favourite Australian animal, so I really wanted to spot one. Thankfully, we didn’t have to wait long. Although there were none in direct view of the viewing platform, there was one a little bit North. We stepped a little bit closer and crouched down, and managed to see the little guy in action.
On top of this? A girl spotted something on the opposite bank. Could hardly believe our luck when we realised it was ANOTHER tree kangaroo, this time hopping about the ground. When we crossed to the other side of the road we managed to see him in a tree.
As Bart took the rest of the day trippers back home, the overnighters had the option of going on a night canoe. I decided to pass and do it another night since I was exhausted and had plenty of time to do it – and instead stuck around the hostel talking to people and playing with the resident dogs, Boots and Chief.