After leaving Paronella park and taking the “Canecutter Way” we headed towards Mission Beach. This part of Queensland is exactly how I pictured it, driving past the odd banana plantation followed by mile after mile of sugar cane fields, occasionally interspersed with cute little sugar cane trains.
James provides a sense of scale to the ‘spring onions on steroids’ as one tour operator referred to them.
Just like real trains, only smaller – cane trains really are very cute.
Our camp for the next two nights was Girrungun National Park, home to Wallaman Falls, Australia’s highest at 268 m (or 305 m depending on whom you believe). On the way we stopped in at Mission Beach – beautiful, and then Tully, Australia’s wettest town, and of course climbed their peculiar town mascot, a 7.9 metre high gumboot (this was the annual rainfall recorded in 1957 – obviously this claim is hotly contested). I guess every town needs to be proud of something. Thankfully, the weather gods favoured us during our brief visit. It seems most towns also have a sugar cane mill, easily distinguished by the huge stacks belching water vapour (and god knows what else) into the sky and Tully was no exception.
Yes, this is the 7.9 m high Tully Gumboot – actually sponsored by Bata shoes too.
A brief stop on the way to take in the view over Hinchinbrook Island on the way to Ingham.
Next stop was Ingham, a town that Kris had read has a strong Italian influence. With a bit of quick web trawling, she had the address of Lou’s Food Emporium. This place is simply Italian Feast overload. Rows of every conceivable pasta, passata, fresh produce, Italian sweets, hanging cured hams, cheeses, and a five meter long glass deli counter with every conceivable variety of olives and antipasta. In one word, Yum!
Lou’s Food Emporium – Ingham. If only we could blog the wonderful smells!
Laden with a bag of goodies, we made the slow winding grind up to the Wallaman Falls camp site. I had booked on-line just two nights before, and was mildly surprised that its on-line status was basically empty. Our stops on the way and unplanned Ingham Italian shopping spree meant a late arrival, which to our surprise also meant slim pickings for a site as the place was chockas. We ended up in the only level spot left, a car park. Hence, note to self, ignore the Queensland on-line booking system for national parks if it includes a Saturday night – people obviously turn up, expecting rangers not to. Kris suggested they might book on-line at the last minute – I reckon it’s simply locals expecting to camp for free. This was further reinforced because on Sunday, the place was near empty.
On Sunday we packed snacks and water and headed to the falls. This turned into a ten kilometer grind in high humidity, with three hundred meters descent down to the base of the falls. Still, the falls are spectacular, and even now, after a light wet season and in the peak of winter, they cascade majestically over the edge ready for a three hundred meter plunge. Kris cooled her feet in the chilly water whilst the boys played with boats (sticks for those of us without imagination) in the rapids downstream of the falls. I took a few (too many) snaps and then went for a swim in the massive plunge pool under the falls, which I had convinced myself I would do. Chilly indeed, but I soon dried off on the steep climb out.