Atherton Tablelands

June 5-6, 2018

Ever since we left Sydney, I’d been excited to ride the Atherton Tablelands and the Gillies Highway. Ladies in the motorcycle groups I’m in all raved about the twisting mountain roads through evergreen forests and past gushing waterfalls. The roads did not disappoint.

The climb into the mountains curved endlessly swerving back and forth, almost like swinging my hips back and forth. I tried to steal a glimpse over the side at the valleys and farms far below without loosing laser focus on the road.

The temperature dropped as we climbed higher and higher until pulling into the Cathedral Fig Tree trail. A short walk brought us to a towering tree with vines cascading down the tree in curtains. These are actually strangling the host tree inside until that tree dies and all that is left is the hollow vine structure. Sounds sad, but it did look pretty cool.

We checked into On the Wallaby hostel in Yungaburra and scooted over to Tinaroo lake for sunset. I had been asked to submit a written piece for a female motorcycle blog, so I had Byron so an impromptu photo shoot with the bike and the glimmering sunset and the lake behind.

Just before the sun sank completely, we went over to the Platypus Lookout spot. We walked along a path running alongside a small creek and went over where a few people were crowded on the bank. A little black creature about a foot long bobbed to the surface of the water, hovered for a second, and then dove back down. I watched it for a good long time, squealing at how cute it was every time it graced us with its presence.

The rest of the night was spent huddled next to the fireplace working on web design for our Cairns clients and planning our Great Barrier Reef Trip.

In the morning the chilly mountain air made me grateful for the thick blankets piled on top of me. We were out of the house early and on our way cruising past the rolling farmland and cows perched on little grassy hills. Today we were out chasing waterfalls and started with the most popular, Milla Milla. The water cascading down the sheer rock face in a wide curtain into a blue green pool below. If it weren’t so cold, I’d be tempted to swim.

The waterfall circuit took us past Zillie and Ellinjaa falls in the town of Wooroonooran (). We made our way back going the long route past a lookout point of the town of Milla Milla, Dinner Falls, and Mount Hypipamee Crater, which is 190ft just to the surface of the water and another 200ft to the bottom of the gorge.

Back at the hostel we refueled with coffee and hit the road to Port Douglas through more of the Atherton Tablelands and the Kuranda range as the sun was sinking lower and lower. I was worried about it getting dark in the winding mountain roads, but we made it out to the coastal Captain Cook Highway as the last hints of light disappeared. This is rated the second most scenic road in Australia. And I couldn’t see a damn thing more than two feet in front of my headlight. I could even hear the ocean waves and smell the ocean air that was no doubt only a couple feet away. Despite the frustration of not being able to see the coastal views, I was glad to pull into the Hostel driveway safe and sound in the dark.