05/07/2017 Cairns to Atherton

We made our own breakfast and headed out on the bikes for coffee.  We are enjoying coffee from the Coffee Club as it’s always consistent.  After coffee we headed out to have a look at Yorkey’s Knob-we’ve had a few jokes about that!  We thought it might be an alternative place to stay to Cairns when we head south as it’s only 20 mins away.  Also we needed to run our tyres in before heading out into the Tablelands.

Yorkey’s Knob is on the coast but you can’t access the beach easily.  However I’m so pleased we rode out there because I saw a pair of Sarus Cranes.  What magnificent birds they are.  They can be 1.8 meters tall with a wingspan of 2.5 meters. These two were in a field near the road and the bikes spooked them and they flew away.  They are the worlds tallest flying bird!

We rode out heading south past Cairns and then west towards the Tablelands.  The road became much like scenic drive through Titirangi but more jungle like.  The road started twisting up the hillside and became very windy.  It was great to ride.  By then we thought the tyres would be worn in so we enjoyed the corners.  We climbed up almost into the cloud, the temperature dropping by about 5 degrees.  Once at the top we rode a short way to Atherton.  Got here by 11, checked into our motel, off loaded our bags and rode out to Kuranda.  I went there 25 years ago and really loved it.  When I was there before it was full of market stalls and had a hippy feel to it.  Today it seemed much more established with shops and touristy items for sale.  Not the same feel as I remembered, but I’m so pleased we rode out there.

We gave our bikes a much needed clean today.

This is Kuranda:

The Tablelands were made famous for the gold and gems found here.  Opals are regularly found here and you can still buy a prospecting claim.  It’s mostly bolder opals that are found here but round opals have been found too.  I was reading about them in a shop today, apparently water drips down though the limestone creating a silica build up, similar to a stalagmite, but because of the iron ore, an electrical charge can change the colour of the silica!  1 cm of opal is created over 5 million years at a compressed depth of 40 meters.  96% of the worlds opals come from Australia!

Now what’s precious in the tablelands is the fertile volcanic soil.  They grow chocolate beans, coffee beans, bananas, mangoes, macadamias and peanuts up here to name a few crops.  The climate is perfect-warm and wet.

We walked into Atherton for dinner but its only a small town and just about everything was closed at 5:30.  We ended up having to have a Macdonalds burger which we both thought was dreadful!

We are heading back down the windy road tomorrow, past Cairns and further north to Port Douglas, where we will spend two nights.