So – catch up time. Sitting in a caravan park / camp site at Kuranda just out of Cairns. Friday night 10th August and with a decent Telstra connection at last.
Murray Falls was a great camp site. Despite the noise of the falls we all slept soundly. Early morning walk to the top of the falls before breakfast – 1.8 km each way. The view from the top back down the valley was tremendous.
Pleasant morning ride back to the highway and then a quick blast past Tully and the reeking sugar mill to the Mission Beach turn off. Coffee and a call to Jeannie to see if she had time to catch up. Of course she did!. Albert is away again in Afghanistan, so Jeannie was happy to see us. Still living in the shed – albeit much upgraded since I was here last year. Still lots of evidence of the physical damage caused by the two cyclones – Yasi (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cyclone_Yasi) and Larry (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cyclone_Larry). The eye of Yasi passed right over Mission Beach. Jeannie and Albert are determined to rebuild their house, but it's obviously tough going. Still – Jeannie was as hospitable as ever and we had a great evening.
Thursday morning and we head off towards the Atherton Tablelands. Back road from Mission Beach to El Arish on the Bruce Highway. Weird synchronicity. I'd been listening to the news on the radio that morning and had heard a report about clashes between Egyptian authorities and militants somewhere in the Sinai at a place called – El Arish. Sure enough – the Queensland town is named after the same place. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/El_Arish,_Queensland)
A soldier settlement founded after the first world war and named after the Egyptian town where the Australian Light Horse were involved in some action against the Turks.
Premium Petrol in El Arish is cheaper ($1.44/litre) than Canberra ($1.60/litre)! Please explain?
We leave the Bruce Highway at Silkwood and make our way to the Palmerston Highway leading up to the Tablelands. Bliss! - Perfect road, perfect riding conditions – no traffic, no road works, no cops. Recommended. Noticeably cooler as we climb – a good 5 degrees cooler than down on the coast.
The Atherton Tablelands offers a great series of ideal roads for motorcycle touring. Lots of interesting geology and pockets of remnant rainforest protected in National Parks.
Lunch at Lake Tinaroo (man made), then a side trip to visit some of the many lakes that fill old volcanic craters. Lake Eacham and Lake Barrine (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lake_Eacham). Back on the road to our camp site for the day on the shores of Lake Tinaroo. School Point Camp Ground. About 16 km of dirt road after leaving the bitumen. Stand up on the pegs and let it rip! Poor Ursala has to take these sections carefully on her Ninja. It's not designed for these conditions. Slow but steady she gets there in the end.
The Qld National Parks have a terrible system for booking camp sites. Very few camp sites in National Parks or State Forests have facilities for self registration when you arrive. They want you to book camp sites in advance. Two problems – most of these camp sites are in locations where there is no mobile phone coverage which means you have to book in advance. This means that there is little room for spontaneity. You can't decide on the spur of the moment to stay somewhere, everything needs to be planned in advance. So Marco had to ride back to the highway where he could get coverage to ring Qld National Parks HQ to book a site.