Back to Mareeba the long way with a coffee stop at Mt. Molloy. There are several cafes there so we were lucky not to miss the last one.
Along the way, sugar cane and mango plantations started to appear in ever increasing numbers – sometimes side by side.
Approaching the town we decided to stop off at a Mango Winery (??) and were so glad we did!
http://www.goldendrop.com.au. As the only visitors we received full attention from a charming lady wearing an amazing deep orange-coloured T-shirt complimented by orange toenail polish. She knew the products well, spoke entertainingly and after we’d tried about 5 wines and ports we ended up buying two bottles of the medium wine, which we hadn’t intended (!) and also a delicious 22% liqueur (‘Cello’) which we’ve already sampled over ice-cream.
A family-owned business, it was originally a tobacco farm which diversified into mangoes, then in 1992 they started researching mango wine-making (which most people deemed impossible) and launched their products in 1999. (Photo from website).
They have a huge orchard of 17,500 trees (said to be one of the largest plantations in Australia) where they grow their own variety of Kensington Red mangoes, derived from Kensington Pride which I knew well from Bowen days and another red-skinned one. I was intrigued to learn they use underripe, ripe and overripe mangoes to produce three different types of wine.
There’s an informative page on their website about mangoes, at http://www.goldendrop.com.au/mangoes.html/ and also some very interesting recipes at http://www.goldendrop.com.au/recipes.html/
We just missed the Mareeba Stockmen’s challenge too, arriving late on Saturday and not noticing the early – and final – Sunday morning activities. At least they had considerably better weather than at Cloncurry.
On the drive from Endeavour River we managed to lose some essential knob from the awning, so we hung around in Mareeba till Monday morning as Dave knew he could get a replacement there. We had lunch at the Coffee/Chocolate House and bought some absolutely delicious Lemon Myrtle dark chocolate – YUM. I was quite sorry to leave Mareeba.
After collecting the essential caravan awning thing, we set off for Cairns but veered off the highway to visit Kuranda and the Barron Falls. There did not seem to be any provision for caravan parking at the Falls and wisely we did not venture down the last part of the narrow steep road, but parked near the top. It was then a steep walk down to the start of the rainforest walk, which meant another 1 km or so but on a lovely wide well surfaced and gently sloping track which took us from well-defined rainforest to open woodland and so to the main viewing point near the Kuranda railway staton.
The Barron River near the highway had looked quite large but the falls were definitely not. Last time I saw them about 1982 the water was thundering down full bore.
The dam at the top- there used to be a power station at the bottom, but it has since been moved to a more downstream location.
The designated caravan parking in Kuranda, close to a supermarket, was full of cars towing nothing at all, so we gave up hoping for a coffee and the headed back for the highway. A little further on we came to the ‘Rainforest Station Nature Park’ which I vaguely remembered looked “interesting” in a brochure which was not then to hand. So we stopped and headed for what looked like the only restaurant rather than what was labelled the Information and booking centre. It turned out the place is a major coach stop and the restaurant could only offer a buffet or sandwiches. It was chock full of Japanese tourists, their plates laden with fresh fruit. I wandered over to the info Centre only to be confronted by a corridor at the end of which I could see a number of booking booths, no sign of any brochures etc so after a reasonable sandwich we left. Later I found the missing brochure and realised there were two other restaurants and a range of walks ….. however it did look like it was very regimented and tourist-oriented and I doubt we missed anything.
We are now in the Lake Placid caravan park and will stay here for a few days. I can hardly believe I have caught up with the blog at long last!!