Smithsdownunder
Our journeys around Australia

1-May-2005
   

Another short 100km trip up the coast took us to Murray Falls for a nights stop in the Lumholtz National Park. It was a nice campsite very close to the falls but there were loads of mosquitoes. As mossies love Ali we just stayed for one night and set off the next day for Mission Beach. We hadn't planned to stop at Mission Beach as the camp sites were all a bit pricey and it wasn't quite payday! We went to look at the place and found a council run site, which was right on the beach and just $13 a night. Mission Beach a nice laid-back place with a few restaurants and small shops just behind a wide sandy beach lined with coconut palms. About 8km offshore is Dunk Island, which is part resort and part National Park.

Mission Beach

Mission Beach
Bananas

The beach wasn't very busy as you can see, just a few people strolling along it. There were quite a few backpackers and old hippies around the town but it has a nice atmosphere about it. I think it gets a bit busier in a month or so when the weather dries up a bit. There was a stinger net just along the beach as it's still too dangerous to swim in the sea yet. The weather is lovely and warm both day and night but it's very wet at times and humid at others. Just a few kilometres inland is the small town of Tully, which boasts itself as being the wettest town in Australia. A few years ago, the annual rainfall was 7.9mtrs and most of that fell in a couple of months. All this rain means that plants and trees grow like mad. The main industry in this area is sugar, bananas and other tropical fruits such as paw paws, grapefruit, lychees, Rambutans and Star Fruit.

Bananas - The polythene bags protect the bananas from insects and birds.

This area is a place where Cassowaries live and breed. These are very large (Up to 1.8mtrs tall) flightless birds with colourful plumage around their head and neck and have a large crest on top of their head. We haven't seen one yet but a few people have said they have seen them near the roadside. They can be very aggressive creatures and you are warned not to approach them.

Mission Beach is also a place where you can do things that you don't tell your mum about until afterwards - no not that, I was talking about white water rafting and sky diving sort of things! So I spent a day white water rafting down the Tully River. (The navigator decided that she had other important things to do that day so I was on my own). It was quite an exhilarating experience; I think I spent as much time in the river as I did in the boat. The rainforest surrounding the Tully River are listed as World Heritage sites and seeing it from the bottom of the gorge was very special. (Well it was when your head was above water!). It was a bit like Jurassic Park in the film. We went over 28 sets of rapids and travelled for about 12kms. They told us that some of the rapids were grade 4 and if we didn't paddle hard enough, could be grade 5 if we went over at the wrong place. (Niagara Falls is grade 6 apparently). I have a few bruises developing after bouncing off of rocks. If you are looking for a bit of excitement I would recommend you give it a go. The company I went with here was Raging Thunder. If you new what was in front of us you would have had your eyes shut too!

Rafting down Tully Gorge

White Water Rafting
Tully Sign We drove up the Tully Gorge when it stopped raining a couple of days later. The river has water in it all year as it is fed from a dam via a hydro station. The whole area is very green and where the rain forest stops, the banana plantations take over. There is a road sign with a difference on the way up the gorge: Strange road sign near Tully I don't think the navigator new what to do about this but at least it saved having an argument about it!

We took a track up into the hills near the Tully Gorge and were lucky enough to see a Buff Breasted Paradise Kingfisher, which are not very common according to the bird book.

Buff Breasted Paradise Kingfisher

Buff Breasted Kingfisher
Ulysses Butterfly

Every now and again you can see bright blue flashes in the bush, these are the Ulysses Butterflies. These are quite large, about the size of your hand.

Ulysses Butterfly