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Chasing Waterfalls



blog-0410763001397478149.jpgMonday, April 7, 2014. Looking over the information we picked up from the ladies in Ayr the day before, we decided to pursue a scenic drive into the Dividing Range to see some waterfalls. I love a good waterfall and the ones in the brochure looked inviting including one which we were told we could swim under the cascading water. We had about 70 kilometers to cover before leaving the Bruce Highway for the highlands. I put the town with the same name as the waterfall we wanted to visit, Millaa Millaa, into the GPS and it guided us through a dizzying set of turns on small roads to our desired destination. I have said it before and I’ll say it again, purchasing the GPS maps for New Zealand and Australia, a set on a chip and bringing our own GPS was one of the best decisions I made on this trip. By the way, my second best choice was to bring my Leatherman!

There were three waterfalls, each beautiful. The first we viewed about 50 feet from the plunge pool. On the hike down into the stream bed, we were met by an Australian Brush Turkey. It crossed our path and disappeared into the woods so fast that I didn’t even think to try for a picture. We both got to see it and there was no doubt it was a turkey. On the return to the parking lot, we found what looked like the same turkey sitting next to the trail near the parking lot. I got a number of pictures. It lingered as if it was completely comfortable in this environment even as a tour bus unloaded 30 or so passengers who tromped by on the trail barely taking notice of the turkey I was photographing. This turkey has a red head and a yellow collar which makes it pretty easy to identify.

The second was inaccessible from that distance. I tried an old trail that had steps but there were so many large trees that had fallen across the trail it became more than I could do to get to the bottom. Tracks on the trail indicated that younger people were undaunted by the challenge but I gave up and settled for the view from the top of the falls. We saw several of the same people who were at the first waterfall and said hello. As we were leaving, the tour bus pulled in.

We drove to the third falls and it was now almost 1:00 p.m. so we decided to eat lunch then go see the waterfall. I figured the tour bus would come and go in that time and we would be able to enjoy the falls without the crowd. Wrong! We got to the falls and the bus had a picnic set up for the tour group. They were scattered all over the lawn that faced the waterfall. A few of the group were in the water, shivering and cheering on a half dozen of the group that had swum to the fall and were cavorting behind the falling water. We dropped our shoes off and entered the water. It was cold but not too cold for swimming, just cold enough to make you pause to adjust to the temperature as you waded into the pool. We both swam across and enjoyed the view of the falls from behind and under the falling water. By the time we were there, the tour group was packing up but there were plenty of casual visitors and a number of them joined us under the and behind the curtain of water.

Returning to the campervan, we dried off and dressed for the drive into Cairns. The road to come was described by the ladies at the visitor’s information station in Ayr as, “a road with 100 turns” and I don’t think she was wrong. We were going to descend from high in the mountains of the Dividing Range to sea level. The turns were near constant from the time we started our descent until we reached the valley. We took our time and let other traffic pass and safely made it to the bottom. Louise gets car sick so she has to concentrate on watching the road. If she looks around she gets dizzy and becomes ill quickly. She didn’t have much to say about this part of the drive.

Checking in at our campground which is walking distance from downtown Cairns, we booked in for four nights. This is one of the premier destinations on our trip. On the news tonight a cyclone (Pacific hurricane) which has been sitting off the northeast coast of Australia for several days and was initially projected to just brush the northern peninsula is now possibly going to make landfall somewhere north of us along the coast. We’ll be watching this carefully and may leave here early if necessary. We wanted to see the Great Barrier Reef and spend some time snorkeling or diving there. With a storm approaching and high seas expected in the area, we may miss this opportunity completely. We are keeping our fingers crossed.


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