21st June 2012
When you are in Cairns, YOU HAVE TO DO THIS TOUR!
It’s advertised everywhere so you can’t miss booking it. One word of advice, remember to book well in advance…it’s pretty popular.
Hearing about this from the infamous Alannah of my SE Asia Travels who kept pushing me to do this, I yielded and booked before I went to Port Douglas where I was in the last few days.
As much as I adored Port Douglas, i had to return to Cairns for this tour and so I was prepared to go back to my old hostel…I had to, my credit cards still hasn’t arrived.
Waking up at the ungodly hour of 6am, and packing my small bag of things that the leaflet advised us to bring….particularly WARM Clothing. There was going to be a lot of swimming. This I liked.
As ‘Gus‘ the bus rocked up at the entrance of my hostel, I was introduced to Cousin Brad, the driver and tour guide of the day. He explained that we were to be his family and we have to call him cousin brad. He was without a doubt, one of the funniest and wackiest guys I have ever met and his inappropriate remarks and creepy voices had all of us on the bus in stitches. He even said that the bus was alive in the form of Gus who would talk to Cousin Brad in the form of engine noises and revs. His attempts to explain Gus having a girlfriend he was trying to avoid is legendary. Not so legendary as his reasoning why Uncle Brian is not on the tour with us today. It truly is an epic story. I ain’t going to spoil it for you, you have to hear from Brad why.
Off we went to the Atherton Tablelands and Brad roused us all with a special singalong to our first stop of the day.
Officially known as the wettest town in Australia or the best U road Brad has come across as he demonstrated us quite a few times! Babinda can be found south of Cairns on the Bruce Highway.
Even though Cousin Brad came out with silly stuff, he also came out with fairly useful info…sometimes. Even when we passed a banana plantation and upon seeing the bananas wrapped in plastic bags in order to preserve the water, he loudly proclaimed this to be a plastic bag plantation where we get out plastic bags from!
From Babinda we headed off to nearby Babinda Boulders based within Wooroonooran National Park (try saying that 3 times fast!). Massive boulders upon a creek and a drowning hole with signs emblazoned on the side of the walking trail telling us not to swim as many have died here. Cousin Brad told us a story about a local aboriginal legend of a girl caught running off with a boy from another nomadic tribe when she was betrothed to an elder of her tribe. Unfortunately, they were caught and the boy executed. The girl? Well, she was cast out of the tribe in humiliation and she went back to the only place she felt happy and cried many tears. That’s how the creek was formed. Running out of tears, she threw herself off the cliff and into the creek and drowning hole. Now, chillingly, all the people at have drowned in the drowning hole has all been men aged 16-26. Perhaps this girl is looking for her man and once grabbing a man and pulling him down, she realises its not him and pushes him under a rock.
As Cousin Brad finished the story, there came a clatter. Everyone turned. A bloke had slipped on the rocks and smashed his camera. Cousin Brad arched his brow in confirmation.
There he gave us a round of tea and cakes. How terribly British. And also I licked the arse of an ant. Not so British. Erm, why did I do that? Cousin Brad claimed that you are able to taste the bitter tang of lime off this green ended ant. I picked one by its head as no one was willing to do this, and licked. And he was right, I could taste lime! I did it 3 more times.
Climbing back on board, we speeded south past Mirriwinni and arrived at our first waterfall of the day. Josephine Falls. Now we could ave some fun! Changing into my swim shorts, not my speedos alas, (sorry girls and boys, you will have to perve on my previous photos) we went rock sliding! The falls cascade over very smooth rock allowing slides to be done! You could take any form of posture. The superman, the cowboy, head forward, the spinning turtle. I had good fun. That is if you could climb on the smooth dry rock from the water! It was an arduous task! After a good hour of this, by the way did I tell you the water is positively freezing?! No wonder they said bring warm clothes!
So! It was finally time for lunch! We headed off to the roof of the Atherton Tablelands where a small cafe resided and helped ourselves to lovely warm tea, chicken dinners and glorious chocolate mud cake! We appreciated the warmth of the food.
Now, you may be yelling at me. It’s Australia! It’s warm! Well, it’s Winter here and we are 700m above sea level. It’s pretty cooling!
Stuffed with 3 helpings of chocolate mud cake I’m not ashamed to admit, we headed off to our next waterfall of the day. Millaa Millaa Falls.
It’s got a claim to fame. Oh yes, girls will quiver at the thought of this. Those rippling abs, a winning smile and a thing for…mysterious girl. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, it’s Peter Andre. A section in his music video there is a beautiful waterfall. Well, it’s the falls we would be visiting. Cousin Brad felt the need to explain to us that Peter Andre wouldn’t be there today due to other commitments. He was pretty disappointed.
But as we toddled along to the falls 10 mins later to fanfare supplied by Gus the Bus, we saw the majestic falls. Now we could pretend to be Peter Andre singing about that special mysterious girl. One snag. The water was absolutely and chillingly freezing! Normally, cold water doesn’t bother me and I’ll happily jump in but I was shaking so much and I’d only put my legs in the water up to my knees. My brain was shooting out me to get out but. Knew in my heart that I wanted to do this. Both were wrapped in a battle of wills. Luckily, the heart won over and I leap dived into the water. Goosebumps appeared, nipples started pointing and I swear icicles covered my eyes. I swam to the fall itself and clambered on the rocks behind. Peering up, you are greeted with a wonderment of light bouncing off the rock outcropping below into the waterfall. It truly was mysterious.
Then I had to jump back into the water. Freezing cold again. As I started swimming to the shore, Cousin Brad stopped me. Not only this is the Peter Andre Falls but also where Herbal Essences filmed for their hair water flick. And he wanted me to do the same with my locks. Naturally, I do not turn down a photo shoot. All I had to do was stick my hair in the water and on the count of three, whip my body back along with my hair causing a water splash. Cousin Brad became suspicious at my attempt and claimed I must have done this before. I didn’t tell him I had a burgeoning modelling career before and as I came out of the water ala Daniel Craig in James Bond, my grinning smile couldn’t wait for the photos to come out.
After the falls we headed into Gus the Bus. Cousin Brad said that we would be going swimming again but everyone became suspicious when he said the next site would have warm water. After all, he said, it’s on a volcano! Sure it would be warm?
As we tumbled and turned on the Atherton Tableland roads, we arrived in the Crater Lakes National Park at Lake Eacham. The place was stunning beautiful especially with the sun starting to set. Dragonflies and water boatmans skimmed the surface and it was truly peaceful. Cousin Brad showed us the jumping tree. It’s only 5m high for the branch to jump off into the water. Warm water we were told. Too gullible we were. Ok ok, the water was the warmest we felt but it was still cold! But I started swimming to the centre of the lake and marvelled at the fact I was in a volcanic crater! Not many people can say that! After a while, I pulled myself out and started watching some bush turkeys that came out of the vegetation surrounding us. Someone thought it was one of the rare cassowaries but not so.
This was a place I really liked to spend time. It’s so peaceful with the surrounding landscapes. I’ll come again for sure.
Hopping on the bus again, Cousin Brad told us that Gus the Bus thought he might as well see his girlfriend…but he warned us that she’s a little bit shy and likes to hide in the trees with the animals. As we stopped in a small village, Cousin Brad told us that we can’t look directly at the trees behind us and the plan was to back the bus slowly with us hiding on the floor and then as we parked right next to the trees, we would jump out of our seats and make as much noise at the trees! We did this but Cousin Brad exclaimed that we were on the wrong side of the road! We looked to the other side to find an elderly lady waving at us! She had a huge basket next to her and she pulled out huge furry cuddly toys that resembled wildlife! Caterpillars, platypuses etc! It was ever so funny and we waved goodbye to Gus’ girlfriend!
Our final stop of the day is Yungaburra. It’s home to many platypuses and you could easily spot one especially under the bridge where’s there is a lookout. As we assembled there ready to glimpse one of the only 2 mammals that lay eggs, with our mugs of hot chocolate and marshmallows, it seemed that the platypuses must be on strike. We never saw one. How rude. As the sunlight rapidly diminished, we headed off to the hostel in Yungaburra called ‘on the wallaby’, it’s a pretty cool place and made me want to stay there for a few nights. We purchased our beer for the long journey back to Cairns on the long and windy road (‘welcome to the first of 62 corners’ said Cousin Brad.) and did a lot of sing song on the way back. I probably did get over enthusiastic on the Grease Megamix and the YMCA song much to the confusion of the drivers behind us when Cousin Brad flicked on the lights repeatedly to time it with YMCA and all of us doing the moves. It was absolutely hilarious I must say.
We rolled back into Cairns (Cousin Brad shouted out that we were back in civilisation when he saw a MacDonalds) and he couldn’t believe for the umpteenth time what a beautiful family he has and kept fabricating stories about discussing with the men how beautiful the women are.
We stopped off at my hostel and I truly have to say that I had an absolute great time. Full of laughter, hysterics, music and travel. What more can you ask….maybe another grease Megamix while you’re at it!
For more information about Uncle Brian’s Tour, check out their website here.