Monday, July 21, 2014

North Queensland

The job search isn’t going so well, and since Edwina was in town we decided to do a tour with Northern Experience Eco Tours on Sunday since she was moving on Monday morning.  The only real reason we went was because I wanted to visit Paronella Park and this was one of the only tours that visits there and also the cheapest one. Edwina and I met during my tour of Uluru and since her time in Cairns would overlap with mine we decided we’d try to get together.  The tour was actually really nice, it felt very relaxed and Brett, our tour guide, was great.  We started out at 7:30am and headed south into the Atherton Tablelands.  It’s such a beautiful area of the country with lots of mountains.
 Our first stop was at Lake Barrine, which is a volcanic crater lake.  Since we’d picked the cheap option of the tour and weren’t going on the Wildlife Spotting Cruise, Edwina and I decided to do a rainforest walk around half of the lake.  Sadly, we didn’t have enough time to do the whole loop, but it was a really neat walk and we didn’t see any snakes, so we were both happy.  After that we drove through some more beautiful countryside and stopped at this Giant Curtain Fig Tree.
  It’s basically a plant parasite, and I’m not entirely sure why there’s really only one in the area or why it hasn’t spread.  After the fig tree we headed to Millaa Millaa Falls.  In the summer lots of people go swimming there, but it was a bit cold for most of us to attempt.  Although, while there we did see two other people get in the water.

We stopped for lunch and then headed off to Paronella Park.  This place was amazing and I’m so glad Ming told me to visit, because I’d never heard of it and might have missed out!  It’s hard to describe and even my photos don’t really do the place justice.  It’s an old castle, built in the 1930’s by a Spaniard named Jose Paronella.
  He made his fortune buying and selling sugar cane plantations in Queensland and once married decided he’d fulfill his dream of building his very own castle.  Since Jose’s castle was powered by the water fall, they were the first home in the area to have electricity and indoor plumbing.  After they completed the castle and grounds they opened it to the public (for a fee of course) and it was apparently quite popular with the Australian & American servicemen in the area during the war.  They had tennis courts, a swimming hole, ice cream parlour, roller skating rink, and plenty of manicured walking paths.
  Sadly it ended up sitting empty for about 14 years during the 80’s and the harsh, damp weather didn’t do it any favors.  Thankfully someone eventually bought the place and turned it into the park it is today.  Admission was a bit steep, but when you think about how expensive it is to keep up and repair such a place, it makes sense.  It’s still a beautiful place to visit and you can just image what it was like when he first built it, in its entire, grand splendor.

On our way back to Cairns we did a quick stop at the Babinda Boulders, which are just, well, boulders in a river.  They look neat, but they’re not all that impressive, at least not to me.  As we drove back the sun was setting behind the mountains and coloring all the beautiful sugarcane fields in the valleys in a beautiful, gold-tinted light.  It really was a sight to see.  Brett dropped us back off in Cairns and I said so long to Edwina.  She’s off down the coast and then home to Germany in the next couple of weeks.  It was a nice tour and I enjoyed having someone with which to do the tour.  I’ve decided to stay in Cairns for at least another week in hopes that one of the many jobs I’ve applied for will pan out and I won’t have to move somewhere else and start searching over again.  Only time will tell I guess…..

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