For over 18 months I have been helping visitors to Cairns book and organise their holidays by working in an Information Centre. ...

Monday, 13 February 2017




I felt like I hadn't had enough fun lately (LOL) and I was having withdrawals from lack of swimming out on the Great Barrier Reef. Tragic.... what to do? With wet season in full effect the air is sultry and muggy, rain is falling, the rivers are flowing and our waterfalls in the region are pumping. Time to get the togs on, grab the  inflatables and get amongst the action! 

Let's go swimming!


There are a few tours to the Atherton Tablelands departing from Cairns. On this day we were to head up there with On The Wallaby Tours. For the first time in my life I was late for a tour... the rain was hammering down in the morning (and had been all night) and traffic was epic causing much a delay. I earned the nick-name of "Princess" by Bart, our friendly driver/guide for the day. Awesome, thanks Bart... grumpy mood alert!!! Thankfully grumpy gave way to smiles not long into the tour as I was stripped of my title when my friend was caught putting make up on.πŸ˜†

With Bart at the helm our small group departed Cairns CBD towards our first site-seeing stop for the day. This was a chance for our international guests to get up close with wallabies in the wild on farmland in Cairns southern suburbs. After a morning loo and snack break at a service station shortly after (they have many hot breakfast items to choose from at your own expense) we hung a right off the Bruce Highway to travel through the Goldsborough Valley to begin our ascent up the Gillies Range. This section of road heading up the mountains has 19km's of 263 hair pin turns. The history of how they pioneered this road is fascinating and you will learn all about it from your driver/guide on this tour. Along route we made a stop at Heales Lookout for a short break to then finally reach the top at the Tablelands (phew! It couldn't have come any sooner... I was feeling a little fresh in the back of that bus!).

We had arrived to a small pocket of rainforest amongst the farmland to see the Cathedral Fig tree, something we hadn't seen before. A strangler tree older than 500 years old, this tree is lesser known than it's counterpart, the Curtain Fig Tree as most of the Tablelands tours stop there. Here, there are less crowds leaving just you and this majestic beast towering high above you with only the sounds of the forest and birds (and the pitter-patter of rain droplets on a wet season day).
 Photo's from my iPhone of the Cathedral Fig Tree.

After getting pretty soggy at the first stop (thankfully Bart saved us from full on drowning by supplying us with umbrellas) we drove on through lush green rolling hills and farmland to the Crater Lakes National Park to visit Lake Barrine. This National Park contains 2 ancient volcanic crater lakes (which erupted thousands of years ago and is now filled with fresh water) both of which we were to visit on this tour. Lake Barrine is known for it's famous tea house with award winning scones. On this day we visited the twin Kauri Pine trees (that are over 45 meters tall) and partake in a 5km rainforest walk. The walk was lovely... let me set the scene for you. The cicadas were singing, the sun was shining and the leaches were sucking.... eeek! I DO NOT like leaches!!!! The joys of wet season. Thankfully, they were easily swatted away and are harmless.
Images from the Lake Barrine Rainforest walk on my iPhone.

By this stage of the day our tummies were rumbling indicating it was my favourite part of any tour... lunch time! Bart set up an easy fresh picnic lunch at Lake Eacham under the shelters.

As cold as us locals felt, we were determined to make the most of the day. It's swim time! We peeled off our outer layers and with our inflatable pink rings, armed with the group camera and a Go Pro we were ready for action. We tentatively made our way to Lake Eacham's edge. Slowly....we dipped in a toe to test the temperature ....... it was warm! Booo-ya! In we were in an instant having loads of fun.

Too much fun at Lake Eacham. My highlight of the day!

The fun continued at our next stop on the tour, Millaa Millaa Falls. The falls name in the local Aboriginal dialect means "water" and having it doubled means there is "many water". These falls are also famous from an old Australian shampoo commercial. Most ladies (and hipster males) will get in the water and photograph themselves flicking their hair. 

We didn't flick our hair this time because we were determined to make it over to the  base  of the waterfall (plus I just cut my hair recently so the photo will result in epic fail). This was a bit of a mission as the water was not as warm as Lake Eacham... it was freezing!!! We floated and paddled rigidly across to the falls whilst gritting our teeth from the cold, trying to look like we were having the time of our lives for all our photos. I think we pulled it off... we look like we are having a ball 😜😜😜

I was convulsing so much when I finally got out I made a bee line directly for the warm inviting bus. I think swimming was done for  me for the day!

Hypipamee National Park  was next up for another rainforest walk and potential swim. Neigh to the swim we said! A rainforest walk to view The Crater and Dinner Falls suited us just fine. Not every tour will stop here so it's another pocket of paradise without the crowds.

The Crater, a shield volcano with it's last eruption thousands of years ago is thought to be around 90 meters deep. A specialised dive team has got to the depth of 75 meters and around 90 meters and had thought to have dropped a line to further depths of 130 meters but no one knows for sure. When you look over that platform to view the crater, a mega wave of vertigo washes over you...woah! It's quiet the drop and an amazing view. Great for shouting out something nasty and hearing an echo back!

Dinner Falls is part of the upper Barron River in 3 sections located right near The Crater.
Dinner Falls photos on my iPhone.

In the late afternoon we arrived for afternoon tea at the On The Wallaby Lodge in Yungaburra. For some of the passengers on this day they were to stay overnight at the Lodge as part of their 2 day option. Other activities for them are kayaking, mountain biking and also Platypus spotting. I have stayed at the lodge before and for a "hostel" type of accommodation it is very comfortable, perfect for a weekend retreat. They have a firm Eco mission in place, to become the most self-sustainable Eco Lodge on the Tablelands. Their latest project was a large new water tank to store and use rainwater.
The On The Wallaby Lodge, Yungaburra.

After afternoon tea of chocolate chip cookies served with delicious fresh fruits it was time to make our decent back down the Gillies Range (and the 263 turns) back down to Cairns. If there is one thing I have to say about this tour is that it wasn't rushed in any way. We had loads of time at every place we visited. Bart, our friendly driver/guide, doesn't own a watch so we remained on "Bart Time" which was slow and relaxed. The only down side of this is that you return back to Cairns fairly late (6.30-7pm) so don't make any concrete plans that evening!

Massive thanks to ON THE WALLABY and the fantabulous Bart for such a fun day. It was a great day filled with laughter and smiles... of course the company I kept helped but I am sure you will have a similar fun-filled experience.

Check out their FB page or website >>> 
Alternatively visit Reef Information Centre's website to make a booking >>>
Also, many thanks to my gal pals for sharing the day with me and allowing me to share the photos! Check out my movie I made of the day >>>


Visit time:
Whole day trip

08:00am  to 6:30pm-7pm (depending on your hotel and Bart time 😜)

Suitable for: 
  • Lovers of water
  • Those who want to have fun and a laugh
  • The Nature enthusiast
Fitness level (out of 5):
  •  πŸ’ͺ 
Time of year:
  • All year round (Bring a brolly in wet season. The itinerary may be altered due to flooding)

  • $99AUD per person

No comments:

Post a Comment