156. Mt. Surprise & Mareeba.

After surviving the corrugations back to Georgetown without further mishap, we made good time to Mt. Surprise where we stayed for two nights in a small campground optimistically called “Planet Earth”. It had several large mango trees as well as some flowering trees…..

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….. and on the second night we enjoyed a plate of barramundi, salad and chips with some of the other residents at the ‘cafe’. Mt. Surprise didn’t have many surprises but it did have an interesting ‘entrance’ and one claim to fame as a radar station during WW2.

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Regarding mangoes – we have been seeing isolated trees and even plantations ever since Croydon. it seems the custom now is to give them crew cuts, doubtless to make harvesting the fruit easier. It is the flowering season and the trees are easy to identify with their wavy reddish flower spikes. Alas we will not be here when the mangoes ripen – bad timing(!).

The road east alternated between one-lane uneven seal and good two-lane marked seal. The distant mountains gradually became closer.

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It was amazing how the scenery changed in less than a day, going from distinctly Outback (red/ochre earth, spiky grass, pointy red anthills and droopy gum trees) to tropical Tableland (mountains, mist, thick green grass, large squat grey-brown anthills and different trees).

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Here’s an even larger anthill …

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We sped through Herbert and Atherton, intending to return for a more leisurely visit another day, and reached Mareeba in good time. There are a  number of large commercial camps at Mareeba but we had no trouble getting place at the Rodeo show ground. The organisation there is awesome, all caravans in neat rows, plentiful rubbish bins all precisely aligned, good clean facilities, polite notices reminding us that water is precious, etc. A sign over the washing machines says to check the colour of the water first! There were some gorgeous sunsets.

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IMG_1674On the way to the camp we passed the cemetery. A huge number of mausoleums no doubt reflect on the large Italian population which arrived after WW2. I have never seen that number of mausoleums in Australia before.

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First stop after setting up, an automotive glass supplier. After expressing surprise that the jeep’s window was still holding together, thankfully they said they could fix or rather replace it but would have to order the glass from Brisbane, so we stayed in Mareeba five days. There were a number of other things Dave needed for the caravan but few were available in Mareeba so we did a day trip to Cairns (next blog).

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We also took one of the kitchen drawers to a cabinetmaker. The plastic ‘drawer hanger/guide’ at the back had broken off during the ride to and from Forsayth. We were told that we’d be very lucky to find any more of those plastic stops! West was built in 2001 and styles have moved on since then.

Mareeba has a large visitors’ centre associated with a historical village, well worth a visit.

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Realistic school exhibit!

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Old butter churns.

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Wombat stew, anyone?

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This lady was preparing a new exhibit, part of a restored colonial house. Only the shelves above her are real, including a very short one directly above her hand, plus the one at the top right.

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The piece de resistance for me was the Tobacco Exhibition. The North Queensland tobacco industry was centred around Mareeba. I was amazed to learn how labour intensive growing tobacco is/was, and how many different types of product there were. My photos tell the story.  Tobacco seed is the smallest seed in the world!

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More about Mareeba and surroundings in the next blog.

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