Since I’d gone canoeing yesterday, figured I’d beat the hoard of college boarders and do the 20k mountain bike track recommended by the lodge today. Grabbed lunch, a bag and then headed off…and immediately went the wrong way.
On the plus side, this resulted in me seeing the Curtain Fig Tree, just outside of Yungaburra.
This fig tree is different to just about every other fig tree in Australia due to its unique development. At some point during its strangulation of the host tree, it feel over, crashing into another tree. The fig then sent roots to the ground (choking a smaller tree trapped between the two in the process) and strangled the additional tree as it grew. This has resulted in a curtain-like effect for the plant.
I backtracked and eventually figured out what road I was meant to be on, and headed up what would be the first of many steep hills. For a place called ‘The Tablelands’ – its very much all rolling hills. Only upside was that you’d eventually get a steep hill to speed down after going upwards.
I consider myself in pretty good shape – on Rottness I was on that bike nearly 8 hours without too much hassle – however The Tablelands are much higher, and thanks to the hills, often require a lot more endurance. As such I was having to push the bike up some of the hills due to no power in my legs, and was utterly exhausted by the time I rolled into Lake Eacham.
We visited here on the waterfalls tour, but hadn’t swam. Something I was about to immediately rectify, and jumped on in.
The water is so much warmer than the waterfalls since the sun is actually hitting it, and equally as fresh. I jumped for the jetty area designed for swimming, so I had little to no idea how deep the water was – often something I struggle with, but knowing I had a ladder rather than having to swim to shore made it a non-issue. Spent about an hour and a half just swimming, popping out to dry and then jumping in again. I only dragged myself away when the sun started getting a little too warm since I still had at least 2/3’s of the bike route to go.
After a handful of directions from a small petrol station/tour cabin, I flew down a ridiculously long and steep decline – and went the wrong way again, turning off a road a little too early – thankfully realised the problem by confirming where I was on my phone’s map app, and turned back before I went too far.
This route is all roads, but the next section was along McKenzie Road, which was a curvy incline through some rainforest and completely different from the previous road route. I ended up off the bike not for exhaustion, but to try and minimise noise as I walked along trying to spot wildlife. Sadly, only caught sight of a few small lizards.
The Tablelands are really incredible to bike through. Back home there’s plenty of farmland, but space means you will eventually spot a mountain or a village breaking it up. Here, it goes on for miles – rolling hills in every shade of green (and the odd brown) you can imagine. There might be the odd shed or small building alongside the road on occasion, but mostly there was nothing but you and countryside for miles.
When I rolled back into Yungaburra, I was exhausted and tired, but honestly couldn’t have had a better morning. Once I’d showered and tried to recover, I decided to head into the town.
The lodge I’m staying at doesn’t have wifi, which does present a problem when you’re trying to look for work. As such, my main plan was to find a cafe or restaurant that did, and spent an hour or so chasing up job opportunities. Along the way I ran into a guy called Jacob, my current roommate who was hoping to get a haircut but had found the Barbers open but devoid of said Barber. We ended up walking around Yungaburra mostly checking out the architecture – its maintained the very old style of building and house, and walk down the right road and it feels as if you’ve stepped back in time. Then you walk down another road and find a very up to date and quirky modern building and spin from the class.
We eventually split up when I went to check out a bookshop (which was essentially a crazy kind of second hand book warehouse), and when I left found him in the Barbers with the now present Barber, and walked down to a small place called the Pit Stop Cafe. They had wifi, so grabbed a drink and a brownie and got busy.
Gonna have to come here again – the brownie was great and hear they do breakfasts so might have that one morning. Plus its faster than the computer at the lodge and when you calculate cost of food to cost of net, its actually cheaper.
When I got back, the college hoard had returned, so hung around and asked what they’d seen before going outside and finding Chief and Boots playing with some kind of puffball Pomeranian I’d never seen before. Who was really upsetting Boots with some of its antics. Eventually realised it had gotten loose from someone’s garden, but dog would not let anyone close enough to read its collar. Tried to earn its trust by playing fetch with Chief (which Boots always interferes with by stealing the stick and not giving it back), but no luck.
I’d bought ingredients to make bolognaise for dinner, since its very easy and I could make enough to last a few meals. However, as irony would have it, that’s what the hostel was making instead of a barbeque tonight! Had to endure an hour of Italian cooking before I could get close to the kitchen and make my own version. A version in which I seriously overcompensate on portion and realise I have a LOT more than planned. I’m gonna be eating nothing but pasta for the next 3 days trying to clear this lot off!