Ravenshoe, Yungaburra and Malanda

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

Ravenshoe prides itself on being the highest town in Queensland and one of its pubs, naturally, claims the title of Queensland’s highest hotel.

ravenshoe hotel
Australia’s highest pub, built 1927 and hardly changed since

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.

windy hill
Some of Windy Hill’s twenty towers

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.Ā 

Mount Hypipamee

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.

Mount Hypipamee volcanic vent
Mount Hypipamee’s unique feature

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.

The middle section of Dinner Falls on the upper Barron River

Malanda Falls

We stopped off at Malanda Falls on our way back towards Ingham and Townsville.

Malanda Falls and pool
Malanda Falls and pool

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.

The 1967 flood level would put the road and the bridge about two metres under water

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!

Undara Lava Tubes

Undara is very similar to Cobbold Gorge (last post but one) in that it is a privately-owned tourist operation showcasing a spectacular geological formation in the middle of what was once a cattle station in the Gulf country. We had two nights at each and would have been happy with longer.

Continue reading “Undara Lava Tubes”

Butterfly vines and Swallowtail butterflies

We have been growing a particular vine, for years, just for the Birdwing butterflies whose caterpillars depend on it. Just what the vine is called and which butterflies depend on it are, however, recurring questions – for us as well as for the many other people who love the butterflies. This post pulls together information from botanical and entomological books and websites to try to settle both questions.

Very briefly, all species of butterflies in one group of Swallowtail butterflies have specialised to feed exclusively on one group of closely related plants. The butterflies are the Troidini, a “tribe” (in scientific language that’s a level between “family” and “genus”) of Swallowtails (Papilionidae) and the plants are the Birthworts (Aristolochiaceae).

Our Troidini are the Clearwing Swallowtail (Cressida cressida), Red-bodied Swallowtail (Atrophaneura polydorus) and all of the Birdwings (Ornithoptera species). The Aristolochiaceae we’re interested in are in the genus Aristolochia, or used to be, and many of them are known as Dutchman’s Pipe vines.

Continue reading “Butterfly vines and Swallowtail butterflies”

Cobbold Gorge

Cobbold Gorge is young and very beautiful. It was born about 10,000 years ago when a creek in Western Queensland was blocked and needed to find another way down into the Robertson River.

This is sandstone country so erosion proceeds quickly and the gorge is now many metres deep – still very narrow, and fantastically carved by floodwaters and the debris they carry. The creek water is some metres deep, we were told, and is darkened to a rich jade green by sediments it carries.

Cobbold Gorge
Deep in the Gorge

Zooming in

But let’s start a bit further back, for context, and zoom in from far above…

Continue reading “Cobbold Gorge”

Einasleigh and Outback Queensland

Einasleigh is an outback town by any definition of “outback” but with a population of just under one hundred, perhaps only Aussies would call it a “town”.

It’s in the Shire of Etheridge, which constitutes most of the middle of North Queensland, and it is typical of our small Western towns – Prairie, Pentland and Torrens Creek on the road from Charters Towers to Hughenden come to mind.

Einasleigh

Einasleigh has a pub (of course) and a caravan park, and a loose scattering of fading houses. It has no servo, if the sign back at the Lynd Junction roadhouse is to be believed Continue reading “Einasleigh and Outback Queensland”