Jane had planned an 8:00 am start for our day on the Atherton Tableland. That would allow us to take the first boat ride on Lake Barrine and then go on for a full day.
Everyone managed to get away on time or close enough. Most of the others needed to stop for fuel so Majella and I with Emily and Sophie were first to make it up the twisting Gillies Highway to Lake Barrine. The others, apart from one younger group who had followed yesterday’s navigation to Ryan Street in Innisfail and consequently missed the turn at Gordonvale, were there in time for the cruise at 9:30 am.
Our cruise around the lake lasted about 45 minutes. The woman driving the boat provided informative commentary throughout and we stopped periodically to observe wildlife including turtles, eels, and water dragons. Pythons kept out of sight today but are often seen.
When we returned to shore the latecomers, Sam, Bek, Lane, Joel, and Grace, were waiting. They had made a start at the cafe and we joined them for coffee and scones.
Next stop was the Curtain Fig Tree. The tree was as massive as we remembered it but access has been vastly improved with an elevated boardwalk all around it.
Easy access made for a quick stop and we were soon discussing the next destination. Jane had planned a stop at Gallo Dairyland on the way to Malanda Falls. That was logical in terms of time and distance to travel but some thought it too soon for more food. They prevailed and our next stop was Malanda Falls. Our memories of that location include the day Nick paddled his inflatable boat to close to the outlet of the pool and was headed down the river before we managed to catch him and haul him back.
Malanda Falls has a fine new visitor centre but has not yet benefited from the accessibility improvements we have found elsewhere. Lane and Claire needed to be carried down multiple flights of steps and then back up again. Nick, Hannah, and most of the kids, including Claire, braved the chilly water but not for long.
It was not until we were back at the cars and preparing to leave that I checked the Visitor Centre and thought it might interest the kids. Hannah and Matt were already in their car and ready to go so they decided to move on to the next destination which we thought should be Millaa Millaa Falls. The kids enjoyed the Centre, complete with animated volcanic eruption, for a while before coming back to the cars to move on. Jane argued convincingly that we should go back to Gallo Dairyland before going on to Millaa Millaa Falls because it was much closer. We called Hannah to let them know but they decided to carry on since they were already almost there.
The rest of us headed for cheese and chocolate. On arrival, Emily and Sophie were not impressed by the agricultural smells and headed inside as quickly as possible. Majella bought chocolate and cheese while we waited for others to arrive before going to see the animals, birds, chickens, sheep, goat, calves, and pigs. There was some discussion of eating lunch there but we decided to drive on to Millaa Millaa Falls.
Sophie stayed with Nick to see the cheese and chocolate making while we drove on. Emily had packed her picnic lunch but Majella and I picked up sandwiches and a brownie slice at Millaa Millaa village before driving on to the Falls. Gutkes were gone by the time we arrived but the rest of the family trickled in, ate, and then thought about swimming.
Emily, Nick, Sophie, Harry, and Ben all braved the cold water to swim out to the falls and traverse the space behind the fall. Emily and Sophie paused on the way across the pool to try for ‘hair flick’ photos.’ By the time they swam back they were cold and ready to go.
We drove back via the Palmerston Highway, stopping briefly at Crawford’s Lookout to see the North Johnstone River far below. By the time we arrived back at Harvester Home a bit before 5:00 pm, all but Nick and the kids were there already and they arrived soon after.
It was time to relax. Some of us did that with a glass of cool refreshment but there were some who had energy left to burn in the pool. Dinner was tacos. Later we discussed plans for tomorrow.