Living in a Marsupial World
 
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The Atherton Tablelands
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Wind farm near Ravenshoe
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After Susanna’s hemp farm, we made our way north, back through the Atherton Tablelands towards Cairns. Since we had a few days before meeting back up with Devin and Emily, Mar and I decided to take advantage of what the Tablelands had to offer. Just down the road from Susanna’s we stopped at Little Millstream Falls, a short and sweet 700m walk that took us to the base of a beautiful swimming hole and waterfall. Though hesitant at first due to chilly air and chillier water, I finally took my man pill and took the plunge. As always -- totally worth it.


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Mar in the Cathedral Fig
From there, we stopped by both the Curtain and Cathedral Fig Trees – two Lord-of-the-Rings-scale-enormous trees that are too astounding to do them justice via blog. Essentially, a tiny Fig seed takes root at the crown of another tree, then sends its roots down from there to the ground, in this case around 50 meters below. Once rooted, the sapling grows around the existing tree like a vine, eventually choking off and killing it. By the time the dead tree inside rots away, the fig stands free on its extensive root structure. Refer to pictures to have mind blown. 

Along the way we also stopped by one of the many volcanic craters in the Tablelands. Its true depth was hidden by water and floating duckweed, but according to the info placard, the crater was the outlet for an enormous steam vent that went deep into the roots of the mountains. Flipping incredible. It’s hard to judge the height of the crater walls by the pictures, so we threw a few rocks in, determining that it took a full 5 seconds before they hit the water. We also just wanted to throw stuff in the crater.



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Curtain Fig Tree
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The Crater -- as best we could capture w/o a wide angle
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To give this some scale, note the upside down tree lodged in the boulders...
That night we stayed at a small, free campsite in Babinda, located next to The Boulders, a point of interest that featured massive rock formations carved through by a powerful river. Beautiful to look at, but we found it hard to fully appreciate due to the ongoing OzExperience tour groups moving through. We also had to stay on the walking track, so there was no scrambling to be had there. The warning signs were very effective, indicating that “many have died in this small section of creek” so we decided to keep our distance.


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Tropic Days Backpackers, Cairns
The next day we drove up to Cairns to get the car serviced and to meet up with Dev and Em. Since it was a public holiday when we arrived, we were forced to wait through the weekend and stay at a local backpackers called Tropic Days before a mechanic could look at Alby. For the modest price of $11 p.p./ night we camped in the garden area behind the dorms. This would have been absolutely perfect if not for the near-constant rain that pelted our tent for the entire weekend. We tried to make the best of the situation by wandering around soggy Cairns and finding some cheap eats. It’s really the only thing you can do in Cairns without blowing $100+ on a guided tour of some kind. We really enjoyed the Night Markets, a daily flea market running from 4-11pm that offered fun stuff like wine tastings, python petting, Chinese massage and cheap trinkets all under one roof. 


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Ben and Nico, Didge Artist
We were able to resist the enthusiastic, solicitous advances of masseuses and Asian buffet girls, but were drawn in to a small trinket shop selling jewelry and didgeridoos. Despite my best efforts to resist, I couldn’t help but be drawn to one of the coolest didges I had ever seen. Unlike most of the other countless didges I had seen so far, this one was covered in intertwining grooves made by the watjuti grub. I simply had to have it, especially when I met the didge’s Aboriginal artist Nico who showed me how to really play.

I was worried about damaging the didge since I’d be lugging it around Australia for the next 10 months. Nico just laughed at me and explained that it was a piece of solid, dead wood, and a drop off an airplane wouldn’t harm it. So now in addition to our pile of stuff (including Emily’s didge) already filling Alby to the brim, I’ve added another big dead log.

 



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