Hightailing it out of Cairns we head for the hills … the highlands above Cairns known as the Atherton Tablelands, a lush, green, fertile plateau 600 – 1000 metres above sea level.
Located between the Bellenden Ker Range and the good old Great Dividing range (which affords us another travelling woo hoo moment) we enjoy a meander through agricultural landscape and rolling scenery. It’s no wonder this area is called the “food bowl of the north” and it’s a great way for us all to see where much of our supermarket shopping starts its journey from in Australia.
There’s enough colour and scenery here to keep a landscape painter happy for life.
While there’s plenty of roadside stops and look-outs to pull into and enjoy the view along the way, we most enjoyed the walk to the crater at Hypipamee National Park to listen out for the eventual plonk of stones dropped below into the murky crater filled with duck weed.
Since The Daintree Little Miss Squid has been spotting epiphytes like a pro.
And ferns, bromeliads and aroids. But she’s most fascinated with the epiphytes and their sneaky way they use other plants to support them and don’t take any nutrients from them. They are like the house guests that won’t go away, which is probably why she’s calling them ‘Those Visitor Plants’.
We cruised in to Ravenshoe – how you do pronounce that? Shoe or hoe?
Didn’t pause to ask as there was something going down in the main street with police cars and a mob of locals milling about outside a house. When the town behaves itself however, it is Queensland’s highest town at 920m above sea level.
The area is also home to Windy Hill wind farm just up the road.
It’s certainly effective – generating enough electricity to supply approximately 3, 500 homes. The farm was created on the extinct Windy Hill volcano in 2000, so that its wind turbines can take advantage of the consistent winds up this way. No volcanoes now, just an incessant hum, and you certainly feel a breeze!
Speaking of breeze, hold on to your hats.
We’re about the enter Australia’s Adventure Drive, the Savannah Way!
We’re taking the tyres off the bitumen again on a rather unique section of Australian outback road. It’s 3, 699 km’s driving through Australia’s pioneer and vintage rail stories, into station-life and indigenous communities.
The Savannah Way stretches from Cairns to Broome across Australia’s tropical savannahs, with only the Qld section of Cairns to Karumba on the Gulf of Carpenteria sealed. After that it’s a rather dusty, teeth chattering bumpy ride from Normantown to Burketown and on to the NT Border. Dubbed Australia’s Adventure Drive the Savannah Way is an alternative route to experience this part of the world, it traverses five World Heritage Areas and over 20 national parks.
We have the Landcruiser prepped and serviced, the bolts tightened on the camper trailer, the supplies, petrol and water stocked up and we are ready to take it, and errant livestock on.
Along the way we are about to be thoroughly entertained and informed by well-written roadside plaques and info bays, as well as tour opportunities from Savannah Guides stations.
Savannah Guides is a network of well versed tour guides with in-depth knowledge of the natural and cultural environments across the area’s vast tropical savannahs. Not many other parts of Australia have such an identifiable accredited tour guide program. As a keen story-teller myself I’m keen to check them out.