We lived in Innisfail from 1984 until 1988 and have driven the road between Townsville and Cairns several times but have never found time to visit Wallaman Falls near Ingham. It is the highest, permanent, single-drop waterfall in Australia so worth a visit and I ensured it was on our itinerary for this trip.
Once again we were on the move early and ready to roll by 7:30 am. Majella drove us toward Townsville, making good time despite a few minor delays at the sites of road repairs. We were pleased to be driving through country with more undulations and tree cover than we had seen over the past several days.
By 9:00 am we were arriving at Townsville. On the way in we stopped for fuel. That required pulling off the highway and some reason the van navigation decided that must mean we wanted to drive through central Townsville rather than take the bypass. It took a little longer to go that way but we did get to see the new stadium and other changes since we were last in Townsville more than 10 years ago.
Soon after leaving Townsville we stopped at a rest area to make and drink coffee. Then we were off again toward Ingham and Wallaman Falls.
We reached Ingham around 11:30 am but did not stop there, heading directly for Wallaman Falls which is about 50 km west of Ingham. The first half of the road is through cane fields and some cattle land on the flat floor of the river valley. That is followed by a steep and winding road up the mountain with a final level but winding stretch along the top of the range to the lookout. It took us close to an hour to make that trip, arriving a bit before 12:30 pm.
The falls lookout offers a spectacular view of a stream of water falling almost 300 m straight down a cliff face. The fall was sufficient that much of the water was mist by the time it reached the bottom. We watched that for a while and then walked the 300 m to another lookout with a view down the gorge below the falls. There are other walks in the area, including a 3.2 km return walk to the foot of the falls. We had not contemplated doing that walk and were not persuaded to change our minds when we saw another couple toiling up the last 300 m to the car park.
On the way down we stopped at two viewpoints along the road. The first offered views down a heavily forested gorge. The second looked out over the flat river valley.
By the time we were back in Ingham it was almost 2:00 pm and probably too late to find lunch in a cafe. We bought some bread rolls in a supermarket and drove to our campsite. There we were able to make and eat lunch in the van. The balance of the afternoon was spent relaxing and packing gear in preparation for returning the van tomorrow.
A little after 6:00 pm we drove back into town to look for dinner. I had harboured hopes of an Italian dinner and the wide variety of pasta we saw in a deli at lunch time had reinforced that but a search of local restaurants had found no Italian establishments open on Monday night. Majella spotted a sign for Lees Hotel promoting itself as the original pub with no beer. That seemed too good to pass up and its alter ego as the Herbert Valley Steakhouse sealed the deal.
I had rump steak with fries and slaw and a glass of Shiraz. Majella had coconut prawns with steamed vegetables and water – she says she was in character. As we were waiting for our meals we noticed a table with a pan atop a burner and bottles of cognac, Grand Marnier, and Cointreau. We surmised it might be for crepes suzette. Our waitress confirmed that and that it was a specialty of the owner every night except Monday and Tuesday. In response to our interest she went off and soon came back to tell us that he was there and willing to do his thing.
After we had finished our main meals we had a few minutes before the owner appeared and did his thing with crepes suzette. He told us he was using the recipe from the Savoy Hotel in London. With plenty of sugar, lemon and orange juice, liqueur and a final topping of flamed cognac it was an impressive performance. The products were sweet and delicious with just a scoop of ice cream on the side.
After dinner we headed back to the campsite to settle down for the night. It will be an early start for Cairns in the morning.