Monday 10th April 2017 – the Atherton Tablelands
We had two options for our drive up to Port Douglas, go up through Cairns (a journey we would partly be repeating when we travelled back to the airport on Friday) or go inland via Atherton and hunt for both the animal that was originally thought to be a hoax – the Duckbilled Platypus, and the giant emu in drag that is the Cassowary.
The chap at the winery had said that a visit to Etty Bay just off the highway at Innisfail was one of the best places in the area to catch sight of the Cassowary. This is a huge prehistoric bird, about the size of an emu, but with an electric blue neck, bright red neck scarf, a horn mohican and a clawed foot that apparently can kill a man. Should be fairly easy to spot right?
Eh no.. Etty Bay is really stunning with nothing more than a campsite, a stunning beach and a small shop – a perfect spot for families looking to get away from it all, and for the kids to be free to run wild. We figured the noise probably wasn’t the Cassowary’s cup of tea which is why none were to be seen, so jumped back in the car and headed inland.
Coming round the first corner, there was our target! A giant disco chicken sat calmly at the side of the road. We stopped and took a few photos – delighted with ourselves. Next corner, another one, strutting across a field, next corner one right next to the car. Thank you Mr Murdering Point winery – great suggestion!
The scenery inland is pretty epic – and the ridge that travels from Millaa Millaa to Atherton has stunning views across hundreds of kilometres of sweeping mountains and valleys.
We came off the main route and took the waterfall route, finishing at the stunning Millaa Millaa falls before stopping for a break at the Platypus Park at Tarzali Lakes, where the guide gave an overview of this odd little creature before sending us down across the fields to the lake where 12 females had set up home.
His advice was to keep relaxed and to chat normally, that way the platypus knows you aren’t in stealth hunting mode and will just carry on around you. The lake is a beautiful spot, with water lilies and turtles but these are shy little creatures who weren’t in the mood for putting on a show. Just the quickest of flashes was all we were treated to but Wayne did really well to catch one of them teasing us with a quick shot (even if it is a bit blurry)
Our mythical creatures mission had been accomplished and so to celebrate we stopped in Malanda for a traditional Aussie Pie then headed onto our next destination – Port Douglas.