Leaving Undara Lava Tubes we drove towards the Atherton Tablelands through flat, dry country generously sprinkled with volcanic cones (we counted nine from the car at one point). The change between Mount Garnet and Ravenshoe was dramatic: hills! and rain! and big trees!
Ravenshoe prides itself on being the highest town in Queensland and one of its pubs, naturally, claims the title of Queensland’s highest hotel.
Other than that, it’s a pretty but undistinguished little town living on its timber-getting past and its farming-and-tourism present.
Windy Hill Wind Farm
Just outside Ravenshoe is Queensland’s second-ever wind farm, on a site appropriately (look at the trees) called Windy Hill. Its vital statistics are weirdly full of twenties: 20 years old this year, costing $20 million to build, and comprising 20 windmills. The output capacity is 12 MW, however, not 20.
That’s okay, but it’s now a small installation. Wikipedia : wind power in Australia informs us that at the end of 2019 there were 101 wind farms in Australia, totalling 6,279 MW, and the largest has a capacity of 453 MW, i.e., nearly 40 times Windy Hill’s output.
The oddly-named Mount Hypipamee was just off our route from Ravenshoe to Atherton. It’s in a National Park and the official site introduces it concisely:
Located high on the southern Evelyn Tableland, in the Hugh Nelson Range, this park is centred around a diatreme or volcanic pipe, thought to have been created by a massive gas explosion.
A platform at the end of a 400m walking track through the rainforest provides an uninterrupted view of the remaining crater. The crater is almost 70m across with sheer granite walls (the surface rock through which the gas exploded). Fifty-eight metres below the rim is a lake over 70m deep, covered with a green layer of native waterweed. …
… this is the only example of [a diatreme] in North Queensland.
What we’re looking at is the chimney with a duckweed-covered pond at the bottom. It is a spectacular formation but it is almost impossible to photograph in such a way as to make the image comprehensible.
The crater is a short walk from the carpark. A slightly longer return route loops along the upper Barron River to give views of a series of cascades collectively called “Dinner Falls”, much smaller than the well known Barron Falls near Kuranda but very beautiful.
We stopped off at Malanda Falls on our way back towards Ingham and Townsville.
For better and for worse, the area is no longer in its natural state. The pool below the falls has been landscaped, enclosed and deepened in 1950s style with a concrete wall and terraces to make a swimming pool and picnic area, and the road bridge crosses the river just above the falls. There’s a picnic shelter close to the road, too. It’s not particularly attractive but I photographed it anyway for its flood height record.
Besides rain, hills and tall trees the Atherton Tablelands have another difference from the savannah country: there’s a lot to see in a very small area.
We will have to return soon with enough time in hand to watch platypuses in the creek at Yungaburra, indulge ourselves the chocolate palace and Mungalli Creek Dairy, work off the consequences paddling Lakes Eacham and Barrine, and go birdwatching at Hasties Swamp National Park. So much to do, so much to enjoy!