We spent most of today in the car. Which sounds grim but for the most part, the scenery was interesting so time passed faster than a similar distance in England would have.
We bade farewell to our lovely friends early this morning and set off. We mainly drove along the ‘Bruce Highway’ which is aka Highway 1. It is however nothing like a trip along the M1, as you can see.
Port Douglas to Cairns
This has to be one of my favourite drives I have done. It takes about an hour and is beautiful. A lot of the time you are next to the beach. This is a single lane highway which was originally cut at the end of the Nineteenth Century by very manual labour. The rainforest covered rock ran in to the sea so this was not a simple task. This was taken from a lookout point so I was out of the car but most of the shots that follow are taken from a moving car so excuse the wobblyness of them.
The road from Port Douglas to Cairns is called the Captain Cook Highway and it then becomes the Bruce Highway. We had such interesting and happy times in the Atherton Tablelands. I would love to come back one day.The huge Captain Cook statue at a shopping area in Cairns. Many places are named after Captain Cook as he first landed in Australia in North Queensland at a place now called ‘Cooktown’ 🙂
Heading South of Cairns we are happy to see the sign declaring all roads are open. I would expect them to be at this time of year but during the wet season they may be closed.
Rainforest meets sugar cane fields. During most of our journey today, the little train track used by the sugar cane trains ran beside the highway and sometimes across it. The sign that is hard to read says ‘Harvey Creek’. When the sugar cane is cut, the fields are ploughed and replanted. I love the dark red colour of the soil in Australia – due to the high iron content.
The sugar cane train tracks have their own bridge here. The bananas all seem to have bags round the growing bananas. Considering how enormous these plantations are, that can not have been a quick task!
Innisfail to Mission Beach
Sugar cane growing on both sides of the road. We mainly listened to “Triple J” on the radio. One of many creeks we crossed. A truck full of just harvested sugar cane.Those of you with a good knowledge of the road from Cairns to Townsville may wonder why we went via Mission Beach which is a detour that added about 40km to our journey. Well, we nearly stayed at Mission Beach instead of Port Douglas so we wanted to look at it to confirm we had made the correct decision.
This is Cassowary country. Mission Beach is absolutely beautiful. (More) miles of soft sand and in the distance some islands, one of which is Dunk Island. It was lovely and we would have enjoyed it here but not as much as Port Douglas as it is too small and quiet and not near enough lots of varied types of activities.
We had a short walk along the beach to stretch our legs and then hopped back in the car as we still have a very long way to go.
The next town was Tully. The vegetation is very green around here.You regularly see these markers along the highway. They are used in the wet season so you can see how high the flood waters are !
What may look like banners across the road in the next picture are actually walkways across the highway for all the arboreal animals who live in the forests here such as Tree Kangaroos and Koalas. So many were being killed, these arial walkways have been created to help them over the road. I hope it works. More sugar cane. Hundreds of miles of it. If you look carefully on the right hand side of this photo, just below the sky line, you can see one of the sugar cane trains – they are incredibly long. The cane is transported by train to the mills. Another bridge for the cane train. Townsville – phew! We have driven a long way and still have 300 km to go.
Townsville to Airlie Beach
I had read that Townsville marks the change from Wet Tropics to Dry Tropics. The landscape certainly changed, almost immediately. It was amazing. The lush green of the rainforest clad hills have been replaced by patchy barren looking scrub. We are heading South of Bowen. As well as agriculture (mainly sugar cane, bananas, mangoes and cattle) there is quite a lot of Primary industry in this part of Queensland. Shortly before this there was a Copper Refinery. Another sugar cane train. The bush here is predominantly Eucalyptus with very little ground cover. It seems so barren here compared to FNQ. The journey we estimated taking 9 hours took closer to 11 due to endless road works where the single lane highway has one side closed for highway repair. It was very frustrating. We made it to Ayr. Getting closer. This bridge was fun. This was some of the view from it. A sugar mill! The air was filled with the scent of molasses. You see signs asking you to be careful as “sugar cane hauling” is in progress. We have seen the sugar cane growing in the fields, seen it being cut and shipped in trucks and trains and now we have passed one of the mills. We had to wait for this train pulling 24 wagons to pass. We think that was molasses as similar looking wagons actually said ‘molasses’ on them. That is an incredible weight to pull along.
The rest of the trip was mainly completed in darkness. We have now arrived in Airlie Beach and are looking forward to tomorrow, which will not involve much time in the car.