This morning Darius (the tour guide) is heading for Atheron for a few things, so I ask to come along so I can avoid the bus schedules. He agrees, but has to refuse Judith since our bus is having some mechanical trouble and he doesn’t have space in the car. The bus trouble sadly, was a sign of things to come.
I’d only seen the IGA Supermarket in Atherton up until now, and had approximately one hour to have a wander round if I wanted a lift back. Apparently, there’s not much in Atherton to take more than an hour to see.
And they have a point – its essentially one main road with several shops. Admittedly a much better variety than in Yungaburra, but nothing particularly memorable. Did wander into a few of the pet stores (including one that had a couple of Himalayan cats wandering around and sleeping) and a handful of other shops looking for a decent belt or wide brimmed hat (2 things I’m starting to need quite desperately), but had no luck.
However, on the way back, I spotted this car:
I’ve been seeing adverts and leaflets for the Crystal Caves for weeks, and although I’m not sure if this is what they were talking about, figure it had to be worth a look. The inside is a shop filled with dozens of different stone-related jewellery and semi-precious stones (which once upon a time I collected, so kind of made me nostalgic to see them), while at the back is a door heading for the museum. Tickets cost $22.50, and apparently have a guarantee if you’re not astounded they’ll give you a refund. Hard to argue with that kind of confidence, so I head in, fitting the hard hat with light they’ve provided me with and head in.
Gotta say, this is a little gem in Atheron, pun intended.
The Crystal Caves hosts hundreds of geodes, minerals and fossilised remains from every corner of the globe collected by owner Rene Boissevain. In order to display the items at their best, they’ve kitted up the bottom floor of the building like a bonafide cave, complete with stalactites and rock walls (all made from expanding foam or styrofoam) with the different rocks embedded in the walls and dropping spikes along with numbers and names that you can check in the guidebook they provide. It’s something of a challenge to find them all since the lights are dim, and you need to use your light to find a few of them – striking up the different colours the geodes can provide in the process. This display also means you can touch most of the items – those you shouldn’t are either behind glass or in spots where you couldn’t reach.
There’s several rooms to the Crystal Caves, trying to keep with a theme – including The Temple, The Fairy Tale and The Discovery Room. The crown jewel of the museum however is known as ‘The Empress of Uruguay’. An 11 foot Amethyst monster of a geode.
Valued at over $250,000, the room that displays The Empress had to be build around her. One of, if not the biggest, Amethyst Geodes in the world – and its pretty damn spectacular close up. Thousands of tiny amethysts in so many shades with the lights – only downside is that its next to impossible to get a good photo due to the lighting.
Just as I was leaving the last room though, I got a text from Darius saying he was ready to leave, so had to speed through the last few exhibits and dart out to meet him. However so about 98% of the museum and was pretty damn impressed – if you’re in the Atherton area this is something worth spending an hour or so going through.
The evening in the hostel, everyone’s a little on edge. Tracey and Megan are both off, which means for the first time ever, Darius is doing the barbeque for the overnight tour. This results in a minor panic around 5 when they realise that not enough steak was actually taken out of the freezer, and everyone has to do a bit of a call around to fix that.
However, the bus doesn’t show. And not long after, the phone rings.
Its utter chaos for the 3 buses that were heading our way. It takes me until quite late that night to find out what happened, but from what I could piece together, a truck overturned on the road which held up the ‘On the Wallaby’ bus, while the Uncle Brian tour group’s bus broke down (remember what I said about our bus problems?). Still not entirely sure what happened to the third bus, but think they went to help the other bus, which meant going back and getting held up as well. Megan had to grab a bus and pick people up halfway there.
It wasn’t until about 18:45, about 2 hours later, that the 2 surviving buses made it to the hostel, full of tired, angry, exhausted tourists. Who thankfully where just grateful to be off the bus and didn’t complain nearly as much as we’d feared. It did hold back dinner by about an hour, but did mean Darius (and the other long stay whose actual occupation is chef) had more time to put dinner together. Though night canoing got cancelling again due to lack of interest. Get the feeling I’m never gonna get out there.
And when the buses departed, since they’d all come at the same time my first night as the hired help saw me having to wash all of the cutlery for both boxes at the same time (normally one bus would come in, Judith would handle washing, then do the other when it rolled in – and have it done before dinner). Darius thankfully helped me out and got everything stored away without having to spend all night at the sink.
Tracey’s back tomorrow, so at least I’ll have some help figuring out precisely what needs to be done. I shadowed Judith as much as I could today, but still have a few queries…and also booked wake boarding before I knew the jobs hours so will kind of be leaving earlier than I’m supposed to. Oops.