Thursday, August 22, 2019

Postcards from Australasia #7

The next destination for Helen and my Australasian adventure was Cairns and the Atherton Tablelands. Cairns is a small city nestled between the Pacific Ocean and it's adjacent mountain range. The sunrises are something to behold:

We explored the Botanic Gardens, seeing this Olive-backed Sunbird, met some local birders who pointed out some roost locations of night birds.

After Cairns is was up into the Tablelands. We stopped at Mt Molloy for coffee. There's a curious lack of recycling in Australia, so many vehicles are left like this one. Interestingly MT Molloy was short for Mining Town Molloy however when the State government decided every settlement should have a generic sign, they assumed at the MTs were Mounts, hence lots of places got their names changed overnight!

Our first stay in the Tablelands was Kingfisher Park Birding Lodge in Julatten, home to many species including this range restriced Macleay's Honeyeater:

We had a day booked with Carol, one of the owners of the lodge and saw loads of species on our morning walk up Mount Lewis. On the descent we found this Red-bellied Black Snake basking in the sunshine. At first it didn't want to shift, but three of us looming persauded it to slither off.

During the afternoon Carol took us to a campsite which frequently hosts small groups of Apostlebirds, we weren't disappointed:

On the way back to the lodge we stopped to observe this Australasian Bustard displaying:

From Julatten we drove up to Cooktown at the end of the made road into Cape York, this is a view of the natural harbour from Grassy Hill

Cooktown has a monument to Captain Cook, and alongside this cannon, cast in Carron Cannon works in Falkirk in 1803. It was shipped up from Brisbane for defence against a suspected Russian invasion in the late 19th century. While in Cooktown we also walked up Mount Cook to take a photgraph of the nearby Mount Saunders, Helen's family name

We took our rental 4x4 up the dirt road to the McIvor River crossing, another birding hotspot as it's where the equatorial and tropical regions of Australia meet, enjoying a morning birding before heading back to Cooktown to pack-up for the journey south.

A final stop in the region was in Yungaburra and we loved it there. We spent one day exploring around Lake Tinaroo, walking various trails and enjoying the landscape reminscent of Scoland in high summer. We also passed the dam, which given the huge volumes of rainfall, was venting huge quantities of water into the river system

Another trip took us to a tea plantation where the prescient owner had planted tree kangaroo friendly woodlands, hence tree kangaroos! My current 'cutest animal on earth' winner. This teenage male 'roo was feeding and climbing, the descent was decidedly less elegant, more sliding, putting me in mind of watching bears in trees.

We also saw Duck-billed Platypus at three locations in the area finally getting photographs at another location in Yungaburra. Magic.

On our last full day in the area we walked up Mount Yabi, an area with some good birding and heaps of butterflies. Sister-in-law lepidopterist has been bombarded with species photographs to identify

On our descent back to Cairns we passed by a number of waterfalls including this one at Millaa Millaa. We've loved this part of our trip and a little sad to leave it behind. Next-up we have a brief holdiay from our holiday in the Brisbane region, with friends, before we start our journey South!


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