Lush tropical Queensland
29.07.2012 - 30.07.2012 20 °C
From Undara Volcanic National Park we travelled to Atherton to get the Land Cruiser serviced. On the way we stopped to view the Millstream Falls in the Millstream Falls National Park, which cascades over a bed of solidified lava and it is Australia's widest single-drop waterfall.
As soon as we reached the Atherton Tablelands the vegetation changed suddenly and we found ourselves driving through tropical forests and it felt if we arrived in a different country. The tablelands are spectacular with its rolling hills and lush vegetation and reminds me of the Natal highlands.
Atherton is a very pretty thriving town with palm trees and jacaranda trees lining the streets. It began as a timber-getters’ camp and a staging post between the tin mines and the coast.
We visited Hasties Swamp National Park just outside the town. A birdwatcher's delight, this swamp is a valuable refuge for resident and migratory birds and we saw many ducks, ibis, swans and jacanas.
Before Atherton was established there was a Chinese settlement, called Cedar Camp established here in 1879. Gold attracted thousands of Chinese to North Queensland in the late 1800s. 'New Gold Mountain' as Australia was called, was seen by many as a way to get rich quickly before returning home. As the gold dwindled and racist sentiments increased, the Chinese were forced to find work in other areas. The discovery of vast stands of red cedar and black bean, among the vine scrub of the Atherton Tablelands region, provided welcome job opportunities in timber and firewood cutting. The Chinese settled in an area known as Cedar Camp - on the outskirts of the growing town of Atherton. As Cedar Camp or Chinatown was primarily a service centre, trade in the town diminished as the displaced Chinese left the area. By the late 1920s Chinatown was almost deserted. The town left a legacy: a highly significant archaeological site and a rare form of Chinese temple, the Hou Wang Temple, which was built of local timber and corrugated iron: typical Queensland construction materials, used in a unique manner but inside the temple is typical Chinese.
From Atherton we are heading north to explore the Cape York Peninsula and we will spend about 2 months here.